Scott Speed's 17th-place finish in Sunday's Finger Lakes 355 at Watkins Glen International was a perfect blend of speed, strategy and skill - all which combined to give Leavine Family Racing (LFR) its best finish yet in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series.
Speed's No. 95 TWD Ford Fusion qualified 21st for the 90-lap road course race. He stuck to a plan to save the car for a final push in the second half, and managed to pass five cars in the final 10 laps despite some difficult conditions.
"We got through the oil at end of the race and got a decent finish," Speed said. "We have definitely started the momentum and are building on it now."
Not only did Leavine Family Racing enjoy its best finish in two years of selected starts, the 17th-place effort was Speed's best finish since finishing 10th at the Daytona International Speedway on July 3, 2010.
There were 43 cars on the entry list which took the pressure off Speed to make the starting lineup. That allowed crew chief Wally Rogers to concentrate on race set up during all three practice sessions.
"It's completely different when you can think about the race, not qualifying, from the moment you get to the track," Rogers said. "We made sure we didn't push too hard in practice and qualifying. We had nothing to gain by taking chances. We knew Scott could get us up front no matter where we started."
Speed was as far back as 29th during pit stops and as high as 14th.
"Traffic is always an issue on road courses because there are only so many places you can make a clean pass," Speed said. "We stayed on track and we kept all the fenders straight. We beat a lot of good cars. We'll take this race and use it as momentum for Bristol Motor Speedway."
Leavine Family Racing currently runs a part-time schedule. Speed's next race is the Irwin Tools Night Race Aug. 25 at the Bristol Motor Speedway.