Endurance Put to the Test
Throughout his stint in Europe, Scott Speed never saw race distances like the ones in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Take, for example, Speed’s last full season in Formula One. The 2006 season’s longest race was the Malaysian Grand Prix, run on the 3.44-mile Sepang International Circuit. At the checkered flag, lead-lap cars reached 310.408 kilometers, which is 192.887 miles on this side of the pond. That grand prix lasted a little more than 90 minutes.
Even the ARCA and Camping World Truck races that Speed competed in last season are no match for the 400- and 500-mile endurance events seen in Sprint Cup. He saw nearly 500 laps in his Sprint Cup debut last fall at Martinsville and 400 miles this season at Las Vegas.
“I can tell you that doing a 500-mile race when the car’s not fast and you’re struggling is horrible. The worst thing in the world for any driver to experience,” Speed said. “In a race when your car is good, like ours was in Las Vegas, you’re like, ‘Dude, this race needs to keep going.’”
A fit and trim Speed had no problems with the March 8 race at Atlanta, but expects Sunday’s 500-lap race at Bristol to be a challenge.
“Honestly, I could have gotten out of the car and ran five miles. Not a big deal at all physically,” Speed said of Atlanta. “When you start going to a track and you get the temperatures up in the 80s and 90s, no matter where you’re at, that’s going to be a struggle just to stay hydrated.
“A track like Bristol is going to be the most physical. The track is short, you don’t use a lot of brakes and corners have much more grip. I’m expecting Bristol to be much more physical than Atlanta.”