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Scott Speed, #82 Red Bull Toyota – Q&A

1 January 1901

Scott Speed enters his rookie season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driving the Red Bull Toyota.

He comes to NASCAR from Formula One, which makes him unique already. And then he starts talking, and it's clear: There is nobody like him in NASCAR.

Or anywhere else…

Q:
You don't strike me as a guy who was watching tape in the offseason. What did you do to prepare for Daytona?

Scott Speed:
Actually, on the contrary, we did watch a bunch of tapes. I've got so little experience on superspeedways. On the mile-and-a-half stuff, it's a bit difficult to be able to tell anything. But with the superspeedway stuff, with all the drafting that's going on, and me knowing so little about it, I think it's going to be helpful.

Q:
What do you look for?

Scott Speed:
I'm just looking for trends, see if I can see if anything happened a couple of times, and see how it happened. It's definitely very difficult to take much from it. But you watch it enough, you start seeing trends. And it makes a little bit more sense when you start doing it.

Q:
What are reasonable expectations for your team this season?

Scott Speed:
As far as results are concerned, I don't really care, honestly. What I care most about is being able to finish where the car is set up to run. If we've got a 20th-place car, I'd like to finish in 20th by the end of the season. The car's going to be better than I'm making it look for a while, just because of my inexperience with this type of racing.

Q:
There's a scene in the first “Batman” where the Joker says, “Wait until they get a load of me.” I keep thinking of that scene when I think of you in NASCAR.

Scott Speed:
(Laughs.)

Q:
What can fans expect of you?

Scott Speed:
Spontaneity. Something different. I'm going to be probably too honest. That's normally my problem.

Q:
You're a big music fan. What's the best concert you've ever been to?

Scott Speed:
The coolest by far is going to see U2. My business partner is basically the best of the best when it comes to production managing. He's the guy that has Bono call him and say, “Can you please come run our tour for us,” because he does it that well. He ran the Rolling Stone tours back when the Stones were huge. He's done U2 for the last four or five years. So we got to hang out and meet Bono and the band and every one.

Q:
Is Bono a race fan?

Scott Speed:
Everyone from Europe is a bit of a race fan. He's more into Formula One. I've seen him at Monaco. But I don't know if I'd ever see him at a NASCAR race.

Q:
How do you expect the racing to be different? What's the difference in personalities on the racetrack here as opposed to F1?

Scott Speed:
I don't know if on the racetrack there's much different personalities. You've always got the same thing - you've got more of the methodical drivers and the kamikaze drivers. That's the case everywhere.

Q:
Which are you?

Scott Speed:
I'm a methodical driver. I'm not kamikaze by any means.

Q:
I imagine that will serve you well, at least early on. No one likes a kamikaze when he first comes in.

Scott Speed:
Yeah. That's definitely not going to work, especially when you're new.

Q:
What's the over-under on how many times you're going to end up in the principal's office?

Scott Speed:
I've already been there a couple times. But not for anything on track. More like (deeper voice), “Scott, why did you wear that T-shirt to the track? It's totally inappropriate.”
“Oh, I'm sorry, my bad, won't do it again.”

Q:
What did the T-shirt say?

Scott Speed:
(Answer unrepeatable.)

Q:
I guess I can't use that answer anyway.

Scott Speed:
(More description of the shirt, more unrepeatable.)

Q:
Where did you get that?

Scott Speed:
Italy. I'm actually wearing it right now. It's one of my favourite T-shirts.

Q:
Do you have any normal clothes, like a golf shirt?

Scott Speed:
A golf shirt? I have all kinds of different shirts. I've got some Polos, for sure.

Q:
I saw that picture in Scene Magazine (in which he is surrounded by shoes). It looks like you have a thousand pairs of shoes.

Scott Speed:
I have plenty of shoes. That is one thing I have tons of. I was never really like that as a kid. I get so much really cool stuff from Puma that comes in because I'm sample size. My collection just grows.

Q:
How many pairs of shoes do you have that you've never worn?

Scott Speed:
That's going to be a big number, too: 25, I'd say.

Q:
On the track, who will you go to for advice?

Scott Speed:
Everyone. It's difficult to get (helpful) advice. I'm an extremely talented racecar driver. There's nothing you can tell me that I don't know. What's impossible is the experience, doing it, getting the feeling for it. That's priceless. The experience plays a lot into it. Not necessarily into going fast, but making good decisions on what you want to do to the racecar. If our racecar's right, we're going to be fast. Then there's the racing itself. Just racing three-wide, racing on the topside, how that whole thing plays out as you go into a corner is completely different from road racing. I'm learning a lot as we go.

Q:
How hard is it to screw up the courage to go into those corners time after time?

Scott Speed:
When you're by yourself, it's pretty easy. When you get around a pack, when five guys go into the corner in front of you, see how that all shakes up, you learn it with experience. I could pick up the phone right now and call Jimmie Johnson, and he would tell me anything I wanted to know. That's what's really cool about a couple of the guys in this sport. It's like one big family. Everyone really helps everyone. It really makes it an enjoyable process to learn. Nobody's out to get you.

Q:
If you had grown up in Charlotte instead of California, would you already have 10 years of NASCAR experience?

Scott Speed:
No. I would have gone to Formula One anyway. Let's be serious. Formula One is still the pinnacle of motorsports in the world by far. You can't compare Formula One with NASCAR. You go to China and ask someone what NASCAR is, and they're going to say, NAS-what? You can't tell me a guy like Jeff Gordon or any of those guys wouldn't want to do it, either. It's just another level up. But as a business and as a racing series, it doesn't make as much sense and it's not as fun as NASCAR.

by Matt Crossman/Sporting News


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