Scott Speed and Leavine Family Racing continued to evolve as a race team last Sunday at the Coca-Cola 600 by making huge gains in speed with each practice session and persevering through mechanical issues during the race.
Speed, crew chief Wally Rogers and the rest of the LFR team solidified their relationship throughout the entire racing weekend as they continue to build a foundation for the future. They worked to improve the car during every practice session and the race itself - the primary objective for a season of selected starts.
Speed's No. 95 Jordan Truck Sales (JTS) Ford started 38th at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, but fuel pump issues sent him behind the wall 87 laps into the longest race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule.
Instead of parking the No.95 machine, however, the team replaced the fuel cell and fuel pump and sent Speed back on track. An hour later the same symptoms returned, and though Speed was making competitive lap times and running with the leaders, the team made the decision to return to the garage to salvage any further damage.
He wound up with a 37th- place finish completing 136 laps.
"It was an amazing weekend," Speed said. "We were happy with our qualifying but I felt like we had more speed in the car. We came back on Saturday and made huge gains. I was really happy with the way the car ran early in the race; especially knowing we had it set up to really come alive under the lights."
The team faced a challenge to find a balance between the heat of the first two hours of the race and the cooler conditions in the second half of the race. They successfully dedicated both practice sessions on Saturday to making the car fast and adjustable for both conditions.
They used that same determination to get Speed back on the track during the race.
"This group doesn't quit," crew chief Wally Rogers said. "We probably weren't going to gain any spots by going to the garage and replacing the fuel system, but we weren't going to give up without a fight."
"The most-gratifying thing is when we returned, we were as fast as everyone running in the top 15. We take a lot of satisfaction in that. We were put under the gun to find speed in the final practice session and we did it. Then we were put under the gun to get the car back on the track and we did that, too.
Sometimes, results don't tell the whole story.
Speed and LFR will make 14 selected starts this year. The next scheduled race is at the Sonoma Raceway on June 24 - the same track where Speed won the talent search by Red Bull that eventually led him to Formula One.