Scott Speed… Indycar Driver!?!?!?!

I’ve wrote a lot of negative Indycar articles over the last week or two, but today the news came out that Scott Speed will run the Indy 500 in a car with Dragon Racing.  I’ve advocated the entry of Scott Speed into Indycar since it first looked like his Cup ride might be over last year.  Scott Speed is an American in a racing series that needs more of them and he’s got a personality in a series that has some personality challenged drivers.  I’ve wanted it and hyped it but had absolutely no reason to actually think it would happen.  Then, Marshall Pruett wrote this article on Speed.  According to Marshall Pruett Scott Speed will drive an entry for Dragon Racing in the Indy 500.  Is this the beginning of a new star being born in Indycar?  Even better, according to Nate Ryan, Dragon Racing also plans to run him in Vegas!

Most of Speed's wins have been on ovals

Scott Speed has raced in GP2, F1, all three main levels of NASCAR, ARCA, and Grand Am.  He was mostsuccessful in Trucks and ARCA where he won races (his only career wins) and GP2 where he went winless but finished 3rd in points.  His Cup and F1 season’s were not nearly as successful as he never scored points in F1 and struggled throughout his Cup career scoring the occasional top 10 and top 5 without ever winning a race.  Still he’s seen success on both ovals and road courses so he’s got the potential for success in Indycar.  I’ve been as critical as anyone about the “F1 Rejects” coming into Indycar, but the difference is this one might actually bring in some fans!

Having Speed debut at Indy will be difficult simply because we’re likely to see over 40 cars trying to make 33 spots.  From NASCAR, Scott has been involved in Go or Go Home qualifying which will help with the pressure on Bump Day if it takes that long.  He’s ran on ovals and he’s ran open wheel cars, but he’s never done both together and he’s never even sat in a current Indycar!  That could be a major issue.  On the plus side he will go to a test at Chicagoland first and then have what looks like the full Month of May program to get up to speed.  Dragon is a good team which will help his qualifying efforts a lot.  As long as Speed can avoid crashing too much he should make the field and run well.

While there are a ton of reasons to be excited for Scott Speed’s arrival into Indycar not all fans are rejoicing.  The main reason why some Indycar fans dislike Speed has to do with his previous comments about Indycar which are less than positive.  He’s always been F1 oriented and grew up during the Split and it shows.  When his F1 career died he still hadn’t changed his tune about Indycar and went head on into NASCAR.  Obviously this has created some hard feelings and the fact that Speed is coming to Indycar doesn’t help.  But come on, we’re getting Scott Speed into Indycar.  A guy who has some notoriety and who, if he’s successful, can get a lot of attention on Indycar and become one of it’s biggest stars!

How can you not see Scott Speed running Indycar as a good thing?  His career hasn’t been great yet but he has shown flashes of talent.  If he can just harness it he could become one of the biggest names in Indycar.  It’s true Speed is only coming to Indycar out of desperation but with a little luck a good Month of May will change his tune and he’ll want more.  His NASCAR career is almost dead… so he might as well take whatever money he can scrape together and try and reinvent himself in Indycar. Scott Speed: an F1 reject I can get excited about!

Posted on May 6, 2011, in Indycar and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Bring him on, he’s a young driver with a lot of experience and his personality is such that he make some waves. Given his experience in open-wheel and his oval experience in N-car, you would think he could do well.

    • Part of it will depend on how much he remembers of GP2 and F1 as it’s been awhile, and then how he can take some of what he learned in NASCAR on the ovals while remembering it’s not the same. But yes, I think he will do well

  2. “…grew up during the Split and it shows”.

    There’s the key. Scott grew up when the IndyCar scene was divided and when the Indy 500 was at an all time low, in the public eye. Things have changed since 2006. I’m hoping that just coming to the Speedway this month and seeing the immensity of the event will start to turn him around and maybe he’ll be in play for a full-time deal in 2012.

    • He grew up during the split, and he was always F1 focused so he didn’t think a lot about Indycar. He lost his F1 ride right before Unification so he tried NASCAR. He started off well and then struggled and lost his ride. Since he’s got about 3 races in NASCAR at any level this year his 2012 schedule is pretty open

  3. I don’t share your enthusiasm for Scott Speed being in INDYCAR, not because of his derisive comments about the series, but because other than the fact that he is American-this matters a lot more to you and others than it does to me-he really hasn’t done anything to warrant my being excited about.

    To be fair-and this may surprise you but I’m fair most of the time-the equipment he had in F1 wasn’t as good as it is now. And there have been other drivers-Mark Blundell and Alex Zanardi immediately come to mind-who were less than spectacular in F1 but came to this side of the Atlantic and did well. However, I-and this is only my opinion-haven’t seen anything to indicate that Speed will follow the examples above. That’s not to say that it CAN’T happen, I just haven’t seen it yet.

    • Yeah he hasn’t exactly been all that great. His main advantage is he’s got an oval background and a road racing one. That might help him. But there is the potential for failure here.

      • True, he never did have good equipment in F1, but he was always right on the level of Vitantonio Liuzzi, who I think is pretty good, if maybe not world champion material. I do remember him having a great season the year before he went to GP2 in Forumla Renault. He was champion that year, winning 8 of 17 races and beating Simon Pagenaud by a huge margin. Other guys driving in the series that year (according to the wiki): Pastor Maldonado (in F1 this year), Romain Grosjean (made it to F1, though he sort of sucked), Jerome d’Ambrosio (in F1 this year in a terrible car), James Jakes (putting together a solid, if unspectacular rookie IndyCar effort), and a few spot starts by Mike Conway, Vitaly Petrov and Pal di Resta. Those are some tough drivers. Also, in GP2, he did only finish behind Nico Rosberg and Heikki Kovaleinen, both well respected current F1 drivers, and beat Alex Premat (a longtime factory Audi driver at Le Mans in in DTM), Adam Carroll, Neel Jani, Giorgio Pantano, Nelson Piquet Jr. (say what you will about his honesty, but he is quick), Gimmi Bruni and one Ernesto Viso. Again, some solid company. I’d say he deserves at least a shot in an IndyCar.

  4. I’m not a big fan of Speed’s, but if he can put 4 laps together and put it in the show, more power to him.

    Plus, I think he’s the sort of driver who has the potential to be very polarizing. That sort of shake-up is good for the series.

    As for his comments about Indy, James Hinchcliffe is becoming one of my favorite drivers, and he used to have some less-than-pleasant things to say about Indy. People change, people grow. I’m glad I’m not held fast to what I said when I saw in my early or mid-twenties, even though that’s not too long ago.

    Bottom line, let’s see what he’s got.

  5. I can’t say that I have high hopes for Mr. Speed. True the name is epic and made for a race car driver, but I’ve never been impressed with his on track performance. Granted he was with Toro Rosso in F1, but look at what Vettel did on that team! The fact that he bested Vitantonio Liuzzi is no great feat, if you ask me. Liuzzi has the most fun name in F1 to say, but he’s not really F1 material. In NASCAR, he sucked. Straight up, he sucked. P35 in 2009, and P30 in 2010. He showed some pace in GP2, but that was it. Even in Star Mazda, he was mid-pack. I’d say its even money that Speed even makes the field for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. I’m certainly not as jazzed about his entry to the IZOD IndyCar Series as some. He just hasn’t shown that he has the high-grade talent to be successful.

    • But there’s a lot of drivers in Indycar who haven’t shown a ton of talent and/or failed badly in F1 so he’ll fit right in! At least he’s seen an oval, that’s a lot more than many Indycar drivers, and better yet, he’s a winner, at least at the ARCA and Truck level.

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