Monday, May 27, 2013

CUP: Scott Speed’s Schedule Expands, But Charlotte Race Still Ends Early

SOURCE: Getty Images
Scott Speed picked up the 6th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway when his unsponsored #95 Leavine Family Racing Ford fell out with transmission trouble after he completed 39 of the race’s 400 laps.

The finish was Speed’s first of 2013 and his first in a Cup race since last June at Dover, 35 races ago, when his Go Green Racing-owned #79 Team Kyle / Koma Unwind Ford was involved in an early crash.  It was also the first for the Leavine Family Racing team and the #95 since the Richmond race four rounds earlier, when Speed fell out of the race with electrical problems after 19 laps.

Speed’s 2013 has already been a series of highs and lows.  After he qualified for the LFR team’s first-ever Daytona 500, he acquired sponsorship from Dish Network and led briefly during a late pit exchange in the race itself.  The car’s bright red-and-blue paint job, often confused with the character Lightning McQueen from the movie “Cars,” then turned to a flat black for the next few races.  Eager to find sponsorship, the team had Speed’s car carry a skull-and-crossbones on the hood of his Ford with the message “Surrender The Sponsor” printed on it.  After four DNFs in the black car, weapon company Tracking Point “surrendered” with B&D Electric to fund his run at the team’s home track in Texas.  Unfortunately, it was there the team suffered its only DNQ of the season, and they skipped the next two races.

In the team’s return at Talladega, Speed turned in the team’s first-ever top-ten finish.  Speed came home 9th in the wild all-day affair that was the Aaron’s 499, just short of the California driver’s career-best 5th in the 2009 running.  With a healthy $107,115 payday at Talladega, the team expanded its commitment to running more races with Speed in 2013.  However, the team exited early at Darlington, finishing 41st after 77 laps, and the team still lacked sponsorship at Charlotte.  They did, however, acquire extra testing time with two-time and defending LASTCAR Cup Champion Michael McDowell driving the car to a 14th-place finish in the Sprint Showdown.

Speed qualified 37th in Sunday’s field at an average speed of 188.659 mph, good enough to bump Mike Bliss and the #19 Humphrey-Smith Motorsports team out of their first race since Martinsville.  In the race itself, Speed’s car, carrying an American flag on the hood, pulled behind the wall in the opening laps, followed eleven circuits late by Michael McDowell, back in his #98 Hyde Park Storage Suites Ford.

*This was the first last-place finish for Speed and the #95 in a Cup Series race at Charlotte.

43) #95-Scott Speed / 39 laps / transmission
42) #98-Michael McDowell / 50 laps / brakes
41) #87-Joe Nemechek / 213 laps / electrical
40) #93-Travis Kvapil / 253 laps / crash
39) #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. / 256 laps / engine

1st) Mike Bliss (4)
2nd) Michael McDowell (3)
3rd) Trevor Bayne, Dave Blaney, Joe Nemechek, Scott Riggs, Scott Speed (1)

1st) #19-Humphrey-Smith Motorsports (4)
2nd) #98-Phil Parsons Racing (3)
3rd) #7-Tommy Baldwin Racing, #21-Wood Brothers Racing, #44-Xxxtreme Motorsports, #87-NEMCO Motorsports, #95-Leavine Family Racing (1)

1st) Ford (6)
2nd) Toyota (5)
3rd) Chevrolet (1)

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