Rockingham: Jimmy Spencer preview

'Weather' or not, rules are rules. MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Feb. 20, 2003) - When it comes to computers, Jimmy Spencer has a restrictor plate on his. Its capabilities are endless, but it rarely gets stretched past the realms of solitaire or his ...

'Weather' or not, rules are rules.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Feb. 20, 2003) - When it comes to computers, Jimmy Spencer has a restrictor plate on his. Its capabilities are endless, but it rarely gets stretched past the realms of solitaire or his favorite Web site, weather.com. Either one can entertain the Berwick, Pa., native for hours.

"It's not looking good," he says to a room of five, none of whom are too sure what he's talking about but conclude it's probably one of two things: Either he has just pulled up the grim weekend forecast for Rockingham, N.C., the place he'll race the No. 7 SIRIUS Dodge on Sunday in the Subway 400, or he can't find a red 8 to stack on his 9 of clubs. Either way, this is crisis management's finest hour.

"Looks like we might get some rain again this weekend," he says, adding a sarcastic "That's just great."

Rain is Mother Nature's way of reminding us that we live by her mercy and play by her rules - a lesson learned last week when a nagging rain shower forced NASCAR to end the Daytona 500 after just 273 miles. It was a decision made firmly within the structure of the rulebook, which says a race is official after the halfway point. That didn't stop some from making the argument that the Daytona 500 should be an exception to the rule due to its prestige. Doesn't NASCAR owe it to the fans to ensure the entirety of the Great American Race, even if it means coming back another day?

Spencer says no. As we head to the one-mile North Carolina Speedway this weekend, Spencer discusses a range of topics, including Mother Nature, driving for a single-car team, and why his dog needs a name.

Jimmy Spencer's thoughts:

The question of the week: Should the Daytona 500 be run in its entirety, even if it means coming back a second day?

"I don't think so. If we started to favor one race, it would cause more problems. I agree that the Daytona 500 is the biggest race of the year. But I don't think you can stop one race and say we'll come back tomorrow and finish it if it's already passed the halfway point. That plays havoc on the following race. It's still just one of 36 races, all of which make up the ultimate prize - a Winston Cup championship. I think if NASCAR did that for Daytona, then at some point people would ask, 'Then why not the Brickyard 400? Isn't that important enough?' Or what about the Coca-Cola 600? It would just open up a whole new can of worms.

"I've always said I would never want to be in NASCAR's shoes, and have to make the decisions they make. NASCAR puts every effort possible into getting these races in, but there are many things to consider. You've got to consider the drivers, airplanes taking off, equipment, and the schedule. You've also got to consider team members, who already spend every waking hour preparing these cars to race. There's a lot to consider when weather becomes a factor. Sure, if we would've raced the entire 500 miles last week, the outcome could've been different. But the Good Lord blessed us with rain, and I think the best car still won the race."

Are your feelings based on the notion that there are too many rule changes anyway?

"I disagree with people who knock NASCAR for changing rules during the middle of the season. NASCAR has to use judgement on most of the rules that are in place, and that's tough to do and still be able to please everybody. I'll say it again, I would never want to be the one who has to make those decisions."

Teammates had a lot to do with the outcome of last week's race. Yet, Team SIRIUS is a single-car team competing in a series that is nearly consumed by multi-car teams. What are the advantages and disadvantages to being a single-car team?

"There are no advantages to a single-car team, so we know we have our work cut out for us. I still think a single-car team can win. I just think it requires harder work. I'll be honest, I'm glad multi-car teams have taken us out of the equation. I'm glad they don't look at us as a threat, because I know that if we work as hard as we can, we'll still reap the benefits. Tommy and I were talking the other day, and we were saying how the biggest thing we need to do right now is get the body of the SIRIUS Dodge slicker. I think right now we're lacking a bit in our aero package, so that means we need to go back to the wind tunnel and really go to work on this."

Speaking of the body of the SIRIUS Dodge, a lot has been said about the new paint and color scheme this year. What are your thoughts?

"I really like the way it looks, because it's plain and it's easy to pick out. Our car doesn't need to be flashy, because we're not a flashy bunch. I've always liked the plain-looking cars. I've driven a few myself. The No. 12 Zippo car in the Busch Series was one of my favorites. This car shows up more than any other one on the track. I think the only thing it needs is a name for the big dog on the hood."

Do you have any suggestions? You've got five dogs of your own, so surely you've got this down to an art.

"I'm thinking something like D.J. - ya know, as in a SIRIUS radio disc jockey. Naming the dog would probably make a good contest. We've definitely got to have a name for it."

-um-

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmy Spencer