Solid Finish For Speed In U-S
June 19, 2007 | 10:20 A.M. EST
Speed arrived Tuesday, June 12 in Indianapolis and was on the go almost immediately.
"It’s all been kind of like a blur," he said several days later about the stream of PR and media appearances and team meetings before the race.
He also spent time with his family. His mother, father, brother and uncle attended the race.
Speed said the United States Grand Prix is his favorite event because of the enthusiastic welcome he gets from the fans, not only at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but also around the city of Indianapolis.
On the opening day of practice, Friday June 15, Speed turned 24 laps in the morning session and set the 15th-quickest time. In the afternoon, he racked up 34 laps and ended up 18th.
Things did not go smoothly.
"Unfortunately, we had several problems on the car today, with the steering wheel, with the TV monitor falling on my finger in the garage, and at the end the wind speed indicator began to come loose," Speed said.
"I also think the fact we are still waiting for our new gearbox will hurt us more at this circuit than at others. We are sliding around a lot on the infield, but I think that is the same for everyone, and I don’t think our balance is so far off what we want.
"Because of the various problems I had, I will be relying on (teammate) Tonio’s data to help with tire choice."
Speed was 20th quickest in the practice session Saturday morning, June 16, and he qualified in the same spot that afternoon.
"After yesterday’s practice, we knew we were going to struggle in qualifying," he said. "The guys in front of us are not so far away, and we made some big improvements on the car just before qualifying, so at least I am going into the race with a much better car than I had earlier.
"We are quick down the straight because we have to be set up like this as we are down on acceleration and so need to take off a lot of wing. The trade-off is that we are sliding a lot in the infield section. But maybe this will give us a race car we can do something with tomorrow. Our reliability so far this weekend has been OK, and I hope that continues."
Last year, Speed got tangled in an accident just after the start of the United States Grand Prix. It wasn’t his fault, but he was out of the race.
This year, there was another accident in the first turn just after the start, but Speed avoided any trouble and gained five spots on Lap 1, climbing to 15th place. A lap later, he was in 14th.
It was not an easy race for Speed. As he explained, his car was set up for straight-line speed rather than traction in the corners. The track remained slippery throughout the race instead of gaining grip as Speed and his engineers had predicted. Still, Speed managed to finish 13th.
His best finish this season was ninth in Monaco.
"The track was slippery out there," Speed said, "and with our low-downforce setup, we really needed the track surface to develop more grip for our car to work better. It was definitely a tough race and just keeping it on the track was in itself a challenge.
"So I am happy to have managed to bring it home in 13th place, which is not too bad. We need lots of small improvements to move forward, but we are working in the right direction."
From Indianapolis, Speed headed back to Europe to prepare for his next race: The French Grand Prix on July 1.