+ SLIPPING, SLIDING IN SIN CITY A year ago, it took Scott Speed 4,893 laps and 7,211 miles before he led 19 laps in his first full Sprint Cup Series season. This season, it didn't take Speed nearly as long - not even close. After Sunday's...
+ SLIPPING, SLIDING IN SIN CITY
A year ago, it took Scott Speed 4,893 laps and 7,211 miles before he led 19 laps in his first full Sprint Cup Series season. This season, it didn't take Speed nearly as long - not even close.
After Sunday's Shelby American 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where Speed led four laps en route to a 22nd-place finish, all it's taken for the second-year driver to match his rookie total of laps led is 724 laps and 1,419 miles.
What a difference a year makes.
"If our bad days are 22nd, then we're doing something good," said Speed, who's led in all three races this season.
Driver No. 82, like most of his competitors, fell victim to a furious pace around Las Vegas' 1.5-mile track. Speed got lapped during a long green-flag run midway through the race and never regained it. He finished one lap down - the first car not on the lead lap.
"It was not our finest hour by any means and we still ended up 22nd," said Speed, who ranks 16th in points. "We just misread the track a little bit. We thought it was going to be a fair bit tighter than it was out there and we struggled with the car being loose. We had some stuff done to the car that we couldn't change during the race, were kind of committed one setup and couldn't go back to it. It's one of those things we had a bad day but we battled it out. Jimmy (Elledge, crew chief) made some great calls on pit road to keep us up there in a reasonable position."
Teammate Brian Vickers also battled a loose condition on his No. 83 Red Bull Toyota. "Extremely loose" was often heard over the radio. Name it, and the No. 83 team tried it - track bar, air pressure and wedge adjustments, spring rubbers, tinkering with the shocks and sway bars.
Nothing worked, until it was far too late. Wholesale changes in the final stages at least made the car driveable, but Vickers ended up five laps down in 31st.
"We were horrible today - probably the worst we have been," Vickers said. "The car started off very loose and stayed that way most of the race. We never could get a handle on it. Something was just off on the car all day. Whatever it was, it was a beast to hang on to. I tried everything I could."
Vickers sits 18th in points entering Sunday's race at another intermediate track - 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway, where Vickers finished fifth one year ago.