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Scott Speed has his toenails painted
Class clown Scott Speed paints his toenail nips dark blue.  We can hear the NASCAR bubbas howling now
Are you ready for some speed? Sure, but are you ready for Scott Speed? Painted toenails, flashy clothes, loose talk and plenty else that doesn't fit NASCAR, he's coming to a track near you.

And he just might be the next Sprint Cup star.

No doubt you've also heard that Joey Logano, the 18-year-old who won in his third Nationwide Series start, might be the next Cup star. Well, Speed, 25, is the anti-Logano. Logano is destined to be a polished NASCAR talent in the conservative mold of Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson, but he has barely raced in any big-time events. Speed, more likely to dress in and say whatever he feels like on any particular day, already has reached what he considers the pinnacle of racing: Formula One.

Granted, the whole F1 thing didn't work out so well -- he was replaced in 2006 after less than two years and finished no higher than ninth in 28 starts -- but Speed has competed in some of the world's biggest races and was the first American to drive in F1 since Michael Andretti in 1993. Hey, it looks good on the resume.

Looks aside, he knows how to race. With four ARCA wins (Kansas, Kentucky, Berlin and Nashville) and a truck win at Dover so far in 2008, it's obvious he can do well in good equipment. His biggest challenge in the future will be giving feedback to his team in the longer Nationwide Series and Cup events.

He'll be accepted on the track as long as he wins. Off the track? That remains to be seen. People say he used to be a little arrogant, a Kyle Busch type, because he knew he had talent. Making it to F1 only boosted his confidence. Now that Speed is back in the United States (he was born in California), he is as loose as they come -- but without the ego because making it to Cup never was his dream.

Speed talks about getting pedicures to relax before races (he also had the tips of his toenails painted dark blue, with a hint of purple, before the win at Dover). He dresses more like K-Fed than a racecar driver. He talks about how he wants to race in Sprint Cup but is in absolutely no hurry to get there -- he likely won't race in the series full time until 2010. He seems to be having fun in trucks and ARCA cars.

It's a good thing Speed is driving for Red Bull Racing because he doesn't look at all interested in being molded into the typical company spokesman. Red Bull is all about energy, all about flair, and Speed has both. He gets strange looks in the garage when he wears a bright outfit. And he's just about always listening to tunes with his earbuds in. That's the way he rolls.

Criticize him for being different if you want -- he doesn't seem to care. He isn't coming to Sprint Cup to win a popularity contest. He already has a sponsor that loves him.

Speed will bring fresh air to a garage made stuffy and high-strung by the influence of big-money sponsors and the pressure big-time teams put on their drivers.

So what if he gets his toenails painted? As they say in racing: It's just one of them deals.  msnbc.com

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