INDIANAPOLIS – Scott Speed wants to become the first American to start all three auto races at Indianapolis and he's hoping to become the first $5 million man, too.
Speed was hired Friday by Jay Penske's team, Dragon Racing, to compete in this month's Indianapolis 500 and October's season-ending race at Las Vegas.
"Having the ability to compete in the Indy 500 is a dream for any racing driver," Speed said in a news release.
Speed also has a real chance to add some historic lines to his resume. If he qualifies for the May 29 race at Indy, Speed would become the first American and the third driver in track history to compete in the three biggest races at Indy — the 500, the Brickyard 400 and the U.S. Grand Prix.
By competing in the season-ending event, Speed would also be the first driver eligible for the $5 million prize IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard has offered to drivers from other series if they win at Vegas.
Speed made 71 starts on the Cup circuit in 2009 and 2010 after leaving F1, but had only one top-five finish in two years. He has not started a NASCAR race this season but is scheduled to make two starts for Kevin Harvick's team in the Nationwide Series.
So when Penske, the youngest son of racing icon Roger Penske, offered Speed the No. 20 car for two races, Speed quickly accepted.
"As one of America's finest open-wheel racers, Scott's past experience in Formula One and NASCAR make him a serious contender at this year's Indy 500 and at the IndyCar Challenge in Las Vegas," Penske said.
He is the second driver Penske plans to field this May. On Tuesday, Penske and Sam Schmidt Motorsports announced they would partner to make Ho-Pin Tung the first Chinese starter in Indy history. Speed and Tung are both expected to test on Monday in Chicago.
On Thursday, Dale Coyne Racing said it would put IndyCar veteran Alex Lloyd in the No. 19 car and seven other oval races this season. Sebastien Bourdais will continue driving the same car on the remaining five street and road courses.
Lloyd, from England, finished fourth in last year's 500. He also became a major story in 2009 at Indy because his pregnant wife was due on race day.
"I'm pumped to be back with the Dale Coyne Racing team, and running not only at Indy, but at the remaining oval track events in 2011," Lloyd said. "I'm very excited to have this chance."
Lloyd had four top-10s last season with Coyne's team and was last season's IndyCar rookie of the year.
Forty-five driver-car combinations have been entered and will vie for the 33 starting spots May 21-22.