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May 08, 2013 - 03:53 PM
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Sunday Afternoon Drive At Talladega Leads To Best Finish
Posted by: newsla on May 08, 2013 - 03:49 PM
Sunday Afternoon Drive At Talladega Leads To Best Finish For Leavine Family Racing

Scott Speed started 36th in the Aaron's 499 at the Talladega Superspeedway, and he finished ninth.


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What happened in between was hardly a Sunday drive at the Talladega Superspeedway.

Before Speed delivered Leavine Family Racing (LFR) its first Top-10 finish in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) competition, all he had to do was drive through the middle of two "Big One" multi-car crashes, wait through a 3-hour, 36-minute rain delay, lead a lap and drive through a green-white-checkered finish in darkness and light rain.

"Dodged that like the Matrix," Speed said after narrowly avoiding the "Big One" on Lap 184.

Speed avoided a 12-car melee that set up the green-white-checkered overtime finish. Had he not navigated through the carnage, Speed would have been collected by Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch.

Speed and the Leavine Family dedicated their effort to the victims of the fiery fertilizer plant explosion at West, Texas. The No. 95 Jordan Truck Sales (JTS) / TrackingPoint Ford carried the words: "West, Texas, Strong. Victims - Survivors - Heroes."

"We are proud of our effort," Speed said. "We're a small team that runs a selected schedule. Although we were against some difficult odds, we were committed to honor the people of West, Texas. Bob and Sharon Leavine live in Tyler, Texas, so this was very special to them. It also was very important to our partners Jordan Truck Sales and TrackingPoint, and our other partners Friends of NRA and Besties with Testies."

Pole qualifying was rained out on Saturday, but the team had the needed car owner points that qualified them for a provisional exemption into the starting lineup.

"It's too bad we never got a chance to qualify because we knew we had a great car," crew chief Wally Rogers said. "The important thing was to be in the race, because at Talladega it doesn't matter where you start, it matters where you finish. Scott has a tremendous feel for restrictor-plate racing. He missed a couple of big crashes and we were in position for the best finish in team history.

"The challenge now is to build on it."

Rogers kept Speed in contention all afternoon with a pit stop strategy that allowed him to stay in touch with the lead draft. After that, Speed took care of the rest.

Speed rode mid-pack until the long rain delay with 63 laps remaining. Before that, he evaded the massive 16-car crash in the first turn by dodging the accident with a detour into the grass. Although the No.95 Jordan Truck Sales / TrackingPoint Ford was involved, it sustained no damage and only had to come in the pits for debris in the grill.

"There were cars everywhere," Speed said. "I listened to my spotter and we got through it. We were lucky. Sometimes at Talladega, you have to be lucky just to finish."

"It was a long day, but it was well worth it," Speed said. "Nothing comes easy at Talladega. Just another Sunday drive."

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