IndyCar »

Is Speed just filling time with Indy?

Since Dragon announced they'd signed up Scott Speed for the Indy 500, the question on everyone's lips is: is Speed serious about IndyCar, or just treading water waiting for NASCAR to call?
"I want to stay in NASCAR," says Scott Speed, bluntly. "I want to keep pushing because I think I have a lot to prove there."

So what's the Californian doing in Indianapolis, getting reacquainted with open wheel cars again reminiscent of the F1 cars he drove back in 2007 for Toro Rosso? He's never even seen the Indy 500 race live in person before, let alone seriously contemplated entering it.

"It's one of those things where beggars can't be choosers and if an amazing opportunity comes along with IndyCar I'd be silly to turn that down," he explains - but even so, that "amazing opportunity" took some arm-twisting by Jay Penske to get Speed to sign up for the Indianapolis 500, the race dubbed "The Greatest Spectacle in the World."

"Well, I got a text like about a week ago I guess, asking if I was available to run the Indy 500. And at the time I had a conflict on qualifying weekend with the Iowa Nationwide Series race," Speed continues. "The next morning Jay called me and basically assured me that the equipment they have is top‑notch and that they have got a real solid program.

"He did a good job of selling me on it and how it was going to be a solid effort into it," Speed adds. "The one thing I did not want to do all year was get into something mediocre, and was this the first thing that came along. That's why I was out of a seat for most of the year ... But it's one of those things where if it wasn't such a good opportunity, I wasn't interested in doing it."

Speed still took some convincing before he agreed to call Kevin Harvick, for whose Nationwide Series team he had been due to drive at Iowa on Indy qualifying weekend. Speed's instincts were clearly to stay loyal to Harvick in the hope that the relationship with the Sprint Cup star would lead to more opportunities in NASCAR.

"I basically called Kevin Harvick and, you know, explained to him the opportunity that I had and I needed to make sure that it was going to be no problem with his sponsors and the stuff he has going on on the Nationwide Series side that I had already committed to," says Speed. "He was basically able to replace me, and me leaving that program wasn't going to cause him too much pain."

Speed's sense of unfinished business in NASCAR partly stems from how he was let go by the Red Bull team at the end of 2010. Speed had a long association with the drinks company, and was the product of their driver development programme that led to his F1 seat, but the relationship has ultimately ended in acrimony and with Speed filing a $6.5m lawsuit because of how the late decision had made it impossible for him to find a team for 2011. "It was one of those things where you start looking for rides in December, it's difficult to land anything good for a full‑time or even for part‑time races," he says.

It was even more aggravating to him because "I really [felt that I had] finally found my footing," Speed says about his last year in NASCAR. "It took me a couple years and it's a tough learning process. I don't want to just give up now. It just seems silly. I want to bide my time."

But with his total 2011 motor sports commitments reduced to only three Nationwide events (the now-cancelled Iowa on May 20, and Iowa a second time along with Montreal in August), the chance to run in Indianapolis was hard to refuse - especially as the offer from Penske's Dragon Racing also covered the Vegas world championship and its huge $5m prize fund for any non-IndyCar series regular who can win the race. That sort of money could make a huge difference in terms of funding a 2012 drive in any series Speed wants.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
No. 82 Red Bull Toyota - Scott Speed [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
Scott Speed walks from his car at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. [Picture credit: Tom Whitmore/Getty Images for NASCAR]
2010 Infineon Scott Speed in car [Picture credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Despite the decals, this is clearly not Ho-Pin Tung: Scott Speed (USA - Dragon Racing) takes over for his first run in an IndyCar in the Rookie Orientation Program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Thursday, May 12 [Photo by Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Tony Kanaan with his MAV TV 500 trophy (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan and crew celebrate winning the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Saturday August 30 2014 (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan celebrates winning the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Saturday August 30 2014 (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan and wife Lauren celebrate winning the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Saturday August 30 2014 (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan and wife Lauren with the Winners Trophy after winning the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Confetti falls on the podium trio Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Ed Carpenter celebrate after the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Ed Carpenter celebrate after the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan celebrates winning the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan celebrates with Chip Ganassi after winning the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan comes in for service during the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan takes a selfie with his Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew in Victory Lane following the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya comes in for service during the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Chip Ganassi congratulates Tony Kanaan on winning the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Saturday August 30 2014 (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
The #12 Penske crew celebrate title success (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.


JJJ - Unregistered

May 14, 2011 11:59 AM

Thought he did ok in F1 with a crappy car, nothing special but I think he was just about on par or slightly better than Liuzzi in the same car. IIRC right he got 3rd place in one of the GP2 championships which is respectable as well...No clue what he did in NASCAR and I don't think he drove IRL before. We've already seen NASCAR is a totally different ballgame compared to open wheel racing so it's hard to judge his performance there anyway. Anyway, hope Indy is broadcast on TV this year again for a change here in the Netherlands. Sometimes it is sometimes it isn't.

Boss B - Unregistered

May 14, 2011 10:22 AM

Actually in F1 he was the best of the Red Bull cars including beating the varsity team in qualifying, quite a few times. But he's a bit too arrogant.



© 1999 - 2014 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.