Jimmy Spencer doesn't forget missing The Daytona 500

No. 41 Target Dodge driver pumped up about Pepsi 400 weekend. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla ¯ (April 16, 2002) -- One of the toughest images in motorsports is watching a team pack up the hauler and pull out of the race track after failing to qualify for...

No. 41 Target Dodge driver pumped up about Pepsi 400 weekend.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla ¯ (April 16, 2002) -- One of the toughest images in motorsports is watching a team pack up the hauler and pull out of the race track after failing to qualify for a race.

In February at Daytona International Speedway, Jimmy Spencer, the 1994 Pepsi 400 champion, was among the 10 drivers who missed the field for the biggest race of the year - the 44th annual Daytona 500.

Missing the "Great American Race" was a major disappointment to Spencer, who had joined Chip Ganassi Racing and the No. 41 Target Dodge during the off-season.

"The Daytona 500 is the only race in my opinion. I don't have the words to describe how I feel right now," said Spencer after failing to finish high enough in his Gatorade 125-mile qualifying race.

Spencer didn't have a fast enough qualifying time and his team wasn't high enough in the owner's points to garner a provisional, so he ended up critiquing the Daytona 500 television coverage from his home in North Carolina.

It was the first time Spencer had missed a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race since 1998, when he sat out two races due to injury.

Spencer will have two races to qualify for during the July 3-6 Pepsi 400 weekend. He'll race the No. 1 Yellow Freight Chevrolet in the inaugural Stacker 2/GNC Live Well 250 NASCAR Busch Series race on July 5 and the No. 41 Target Dodge in the July 6 Pepsi 400. He plans on not only making both races, but also winning them.

The Pepsi 400 has been good to Spencer. In the 1994 edition of the mid-summer classic, Spencer, driving the No. 27 McDonald's Ford for the legendary Junior Johnson, delivered one of the most memorable finishes in the history of the race.

Spencer battled door-to-door with Ernie Irvan's famed No. 28 Ford on the last lap of the race and eked out the victory by inches at the start/finish line. It was the only lap that Spencer had led all day long.

"That was my first ever Winston Cup win," said Spencer, who wears a Rolex watch given to him by McDonald's to commemorate the victory. "A win at Daytona was so special. You hear all the drivers talk about Daytona. There's nothing like Daytona. I think everybody - a race fan or a driver -- has been to the Daytona 500 or Daytona International Speedway.

"Running underneath the lights at Daytona is awesome and it gives us a whole new format. I think we'll do well there come July weekend and I'm looking forward to it."

Tickets for the Pepsi 400 are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.

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Series NASCAR-CUP