AAA Insurance 200: Speed Conquers the Monster Race

Adam AmickSenior Writer IMay 31, 2008

Don't recall this episode of the famous 1960's Japanese cartoon?

Wondering if you'll have to pay out the nose to go see the recently released movie, "Speed Racer"?

Neither, just check out the finish order from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series AAA Insurance 200 at Dover International Speedway, aka the "Monster Mile" Friday night.

And no, it's not Speed Racer I speak of, but Scott Speed. And he wasn't driving the Mach 5, nor an equally high-tech Formula 1 machine. He was in a NASCAR racing truck (a Toyota Tundra to be specific).

If you aren't a fan of F1, or have watched the ARCA or NCTS this season, you may not know who Scott Speed is.

Pay attention, NASCAR fans, this kid is moving fast, and the plan is to have him in a Cup ride before the season is out.

Just over a month ago, Speed recovered from going a lap down to win the ARCA race at Kansas Speedway. Friday night he got out front with a late-race two-tire pit stop and pulled away for the win in his first visit to Dover. This was his sixth Truck Series start, two-upping Donny Lia, rookie driver who won last week's race at Mansfield, Ohio in his eighth start.

Scott Speed comes into stock car racing along a similar recent path of other open-wheel stars such as Juan Pablo Montoya, Dario Franchitti, and Jacques Villeneuve. Speed has an upbringing in karting and open wheel racing, with an impressive resume of success.

Speed won a Red Bull sponsored effort to get an American driver into Formula One in 2002, eventually landing with the Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 team. Speed made a total of 28 starts but was hampered by third-tier equipment and qualifying at the back of the grid.

Reports of personality conflicts between he and team manager Gerhard Berger would see the departure of Speed from F1 in July of 2007, but not the loss of faith of Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz. Speed headed back to the States, and started working on transitioning to stock car racing in ARCA. He would make a single start in 2007 for Eddie Sharp Racing at the high-banks of Talladega, starting and finishing seventh.

So far his efforts in ARCA have him in position to contend for the points championship, and he has shown good progress in the truck, culminating in the win at Dover.

Look for Speed to make a handful of Cup starts later this season, probably in place of A.J. Allmendinger in the number 84 Red Bull Camry. Allmendinger has struggled at times, with Mike Skinner having run several races in an attempt to analyze what the deficiencies with the car were. This while the Red Bull number 83 sister car of Brian Vickers has run well most of the season, staying in the top-20 in Cup points.

Allmendinger had his Cup career highlight in the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte, taking the win to advance into the All-Star race, and finishing 17th in the show. But his transition from Champ Car success to NASCAR has been a rough one, and with Speed showing the aptitude for handling stock cars, either Allmendinger will be on the sidelines or Mateschitz will try to field a third Red Bull car.

Either way, Scott Speed may be more worthy of the classic theme song than the recent big-screen production.

"Here he comes, here comes Speed Racer..."