Sunday's Aaron's 499 will be the second race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season with restrictor plates. But for Scott Speed and Leavine Family Racing, their effort will be anything but restricted.
The team will dedicate its efforts on Sunday to the victims of the West, Texas, explosion that killed 14 people, including 12 first responders.
"We will run with restricted engines at the Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, but I can promise you nobody on this race team will hold anything back," Speed said. "Our race team has deep roots in Texas. Our car will be West, Texas, strong."
The Texas-based team decided to bring awareness to the disaster with signage on Speed's No. 95 Ford Fusion for Sunday's race in the aftermath of the fiery explosion at the fertilizer plant near Waco, Texas. The roof to Speed's car will carry to the words: "West, Texas, Strong. Victims - Survivors - Heroes."
"As Texans, we all bond together," said car owner Bob Leavine, who lives in Tyler, Texas. "Texans are strong people, proud people. And when something happens, we join forces."
TrackingPoint and Jordan Truck Sales (JTS) will share the primary sponsorship for the 188-lap event. Returning team sponsor Jordan Truck Sales (JTS) will be on the hood of the No. 95 Ford.
The Austin, Texas based TrackingPoint will return with sponsorship on the quarter panels. TrackingPoint is an applied technology company that created the first Precision Guided Firearm, a revolutionary new long-range shooting system that puts jet fighter "lock and launch" technology in a rifle, enabling users to hit moving targets at extended ranges.
Secondary sponsors Friends of NRA and Besties with Testies also signed on for Sunday's project.
Crew chief Wally Rogers knows the best way to honor the victims of the explosion is to run up front. The team will bring the same car that led two laps at the season-opening Daytona 500 and wound up with a lead-lap finish.
"We have a good restrictor-plate package," Rogers said. "Scott has a good sense for finding good drafting partners and not taking big gambles. This is a great opportunity for this team to make a breakout performance. No other track lends itself to upset victories like Talladega. Of course, in our minds it wouldn't be an upset."
Races at Talladega and Daytona are run with speed-reducing restrictor plates that limit the amount of air and gasoline into the engine. The plates restrict speeds by as much as 40 mph for safety reasons.
Since Leavine Family Racing is running a selective schedule, Speed kept himself busy with driving in the X-Games Global Rallycross championship. He won a gold medal for Ford Racing by winning the race in an OlsbergsMSE Fiesta Star Ford April 23 at Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. Speed won with a last-lap pass.
"Winning in Brazil was a lot of fun," Speed said. "Winning at Talladega would be even better."