Several reasons can explain why Scott Speed can't wait for Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at the Daytona International Speedway, but none are more important than another good opportunity to drive the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Ford to Victory Lane.
Though the team makes selected appearances in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), the team's strength has come at the two restrictor-plate tracks, including Daytona.
A 23rd-place finish at the season-opening Daytona 500 and a ninth-place effort at the Aaron's 499 at the Talladega Superspeedway are the two best finishes for Speed and Leavine Family Racing this year.
"Even at Daytona we led laps," Speed said.
The team last raced at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26. The five-race break is the longest planned by the third year team. It also gave the team more than a month to make minor adjustments to their No. 95 Ford Fusion.
"This car finished ninth the last time it was on the track, so there's not a lot that has to be done with it," crew chief Wally Rogers said. "This car is fast and it drives really well. More than anything else we've gone over our strategy."
But once the race starts at 7:30 p.m., Speed said a lot of the planning will be pointless.
"Everyone goes into a plate race with a strategy, but it's not very often things work out to plan," Speed said. "Once everyone starts finding their place in the draft you usually get what you can get, not what you want."
Restrictor-plate tracks like Daytona and Talladega also are known for colossal multi-car accidents. Speed, however, has one of the better records for avoiding "the big one," especially at Daytona. He's finished in four of five career starts on the 2.5-mile tri-oval.
Speed has completed 877 of 886 laps in his career at Daytona International Speedway.
"You have to make sure you always understand your surroundings," he said. "You try not to be around guys who have a habit of not finishing these races. And once you find your comfort zone, if it's possible to actually find a comfort zone at Daytona, you have to be committed to everything you do. There's no time or room for second-guessing. You make your decisions, you pick your line and you hope for the best."
Speed and Leavine Family Racing's next scheduled race will be the Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at The Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 28.