Ex-F1 driver headed for NASCAR truck title
Former Formula One driver Scott Speed will compete in Las Vegas Motor Speedway's Qwik Liner Las Vegas 350 for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on Sept. 20. It will mark Speed's first visit to LVMS.
Speed is a young man in a big hurry. At the still-young age of 24, Speed already is a veteran of 17 years behind the wheel. And what a ride it's been for the Manteca, Calif., native.
Scott cut his auto racing teeth in go-kart competition and won his first national go-kart championship in 1995 at age 12. He earned several more karting titles before graduating to full-sized cars.
Speed stepped up to open-wheel racing in 2001 and won the U.S. Jim Russell Racing title in his first try. In 2002, he competed in the Barber Formula Dodge and U.S. Star Mazda series. That same year, Red Bull launched the Red Bull Driver Search. The goal of the driver search was to place an American driver in the Formula One Series (F1). Speed, now 19, won the Red Bull driver search and joined the British Formula Three Series. In 2004, he won the German Formula Renault and Eurocup championships. The European road-racing apprenticeship continued, until sponsor Red Bull purchased the Minardi Formula One team. In 2005, at the Canadian Grand Prix in Quebec, Speed took part as a test driver for Red Bull Racing, becoming the first American driver to participate in a Formula One event since Michael Andretti (1993). He was also the test driver for the United States Grand Prix. Speed joined the Red Bull F1 team, now known as Scuderia Toro Rosso (Italian for "Red Bull Stable").
Speed flirted with victory on several occasions but failed to win an F1 race. With his sights now set on American racing and NASCAR, Speed departed Scuderia Toro Rosso on good terms after the seventh F1 event of 2007 and managed to retain his sponsorship with the energy drink giant. He signed on as driver of the No. 2 Red Bull Toyota for Eddie Sharp Racing in the Automobile Racing Club of America Series (a.k.a. ARCA RE/MAX Series) and also drives the No. 22 Red Bull Toyota for Bill Davis Racing in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition.
Scott quickly tasted success in American oval-track racing, winning the 2008 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Dover, Del., in just his sixth race. The ARCA RE/MAX Series is a mix of seasoned stock-car racing veterans (including perennial favorite Frank Kimmel and NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader) and up-and-coming NASCAR rookies logging extra seat time.
The cars are similar to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racers and the competition is tough. Tough for everyone, it seems, except Speed.
Speed currently leads the ARCA point standings and has won four times (at Kansas, Kentucky and Nashville Speedways and also at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Mich.). "I couldn't be happier with the way the season is going at this point," said Speed. "I am learning a lot about stock cars and having a lot of fun." Speed has competed in nine NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events this year and currently is 26th in the point standings with three top-five finishes and five top 10s.
Scott probably will handle his first visit to LVMS's 1.5-mile superspeedway in the same style as his other adventures.
"I can't wait to get back in the Truck. I love racing with these drivers over here. They are a lot of fun. My family is from the West coast, so it will be exciting to race in front of them at Las Vegas as well." Speed's ultimate goal is to compete full-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
"I am not sure what the plans for my future are at this point.
To race in the Sprint Cup Series is definitely what I am preparing for, but am just taking things one step at a time right now."