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Plenty of ‘Speed’ to burn

BYJIM UTTER

McClatchy Newspapers

NASCAR’s newest race winner is

quite a bit different than all the

others.

Scott Speed doesn’t have a

more traditional short-track upbringing. He

doesn’t really feel the need to do what’s

expected, and he’s doing his best not to let

results determine his confidence.

He’s wide-open, wide-eyed and his tastes

are wide-ranging.

After earning his first win in the

Craftsman Truck Series last weekend at

Dover, Del., in just his sixth series start,

Speed hustled into the media center and

promptly began his winner’s interview with a

discussion of his recent pedicure.

The press conference ended with Speed

showcasing his now blue-colored toenails to

anyone and everyone.

This is not your typical NASCAR driver.

Perhaps that’s what makes Speed so refresh-

ing.

“He’s a free spirit, that’s for sure,” said

Team Red Bull general manager Jay Frye,

who is helping to coordinate Speed’s driver

development program for the organization

this season.

“His commitment, however,

is very impressive. You may see

something different in the way

he acts or dresses or whatever,

but when it comes time to go,

the kid is spot-on.”

The 25-year-old native of

Manteca, Calif., spent the

2006 and 2007 seasons as a driver for the

Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula One team.

With his debut in the 2006 Bahrain Grand

Prix, Speed became the first American driver

in the series since Michael Andretti in 1993.

He made his debut in stock cars last fall

in the Automobile Racing Club of America

series race at Talladega, Ala., in preparation

for running the full season in 2008. He won

his first ARCA race earlier this season at

Kansas.

Red Bull added some

Truck series races to

his schedule to

begin his transition

to NASCAR and it

didn’t take long for

Speed to earn a vic-

tory there, either.

Frye said Speed’s

schedule will continue

to change through the end

of the year. He already

has added Friday

night’s Truck

series race at

Texas Motor

Speedway to his

schedule as a

result of his win

and still plans to run in Saturday’s ARCA

race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.

“I’m learning step by step. It’s going to be

a long process. I mean just to have the expe-

rience to know what to do on the trucks or

on the cars. You can’t just learn it right

away,” Speed explained.

“It’s something you have to feel and you

have to learn and the learning curve that I’ve

had is amazing. I’ve learned a ton every time

I go out on the track for a

race. I definitely come away

with a lot of feeling, a lot of

experience and knowledge.”

Speed’s quick success

has already prompted ques-

tions about when he will

make his debut in the Sprint

Cup Series for Team Red

Bull.

“I know Red Bull will

want me to do some Cup

races soon but I’m not

in a rush. I’m having

the time of my life

just coming over

here and trying

to learn this

sport. And it’s

awesome,” he

said.

“Red Bull

has given me

an incredible

opportunity to do this

and my hat’s off to them.

Without them none of this

would have been possible.”