FONTANTA, Calif. (April 23, 2002) -- For one week, California culture will feature spark plugs instead of surfboards and fire suits instead of swimsuits. That's the way the ...
FONTANTA, Calif. (April 23, 2002) -- For one week, California culture will feature spark plugs instead of surfboards and fire suits instead of swimsuits. That's the way the #1 Yellow Racing Team likes it.
The NASCAR Busch Series will continue its 2002 slate by racing at the exciting two-mile California Speedway, where Team Yellow driver Jimmy Spencer improved 17 positions from his original starting spot last year to finish seventh. The top 10 helped pave the way to an exciting campaign for the boys in Swamp Holly Orange, as a string of top 10s and even three wins soon followed.
Now a year later, Spencer will lead the Yellow crew west once again in search of something more valuable than gold: a win in the Auto Club 300 (4 p.m. EDT on FOX). As he packs his bags for the California sun, the 45-year old veteran driver talks of his upcoming week at one of his favorite tracks. He also, for the first time, speaks of his buddy Jack Roush, a well-known team owner in the NASCAR community who was critically injured in an airplane crash in Alabama last Friday night.
Driver Jimmy Spencer's thoughts --
You've run a couple of times at California in a Busch car. What are your thoughts of going back to the two-mile track?
"It's an awesome place. It's very similar to Las Vegas and Michigan. You don't get into trouble coming off the corners there. There are definitely two grooves of racing. You've got to handle really good there, and gas mileage becomes an issue. Everything comes into play at that race track.
"I love to race. It doesn't matter where. With the Yellow Racing team, we run good everywhere we go, so it's fun to go to the track when you have an opportunity to win every week. We haven't done very well this year; we've had a lot of bad luck. But hopefully that will change."
How did the Jack Roush incident affect you last weekend?
"For me, it brought back memories of when I heard about Alan Kulwicki at Bristol. It's an awful feeling when you first hear about something like that. Luckily, Jack had a guy there who helped him and saved his life. I like Jack Roush. He knows everybody in the garage area, and he's a tough competitor. I'm just glad he's going to make it."
Is it any more difficult to do your job when someone in the racing family is involved in something as serious as that?
"It certainly shook everybody up. As a driver, you still have a job to do when you get on the track, but certainly our thoughts and prayers were with Jack and his family, and they still are. It will be different not having him in the garage, and I suspect he'll be away for quite some time. When he's at the track, he's always around his cars. He fields cars in the Winston Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series, so it will be different not seeing him there for however long it takes him to heal. If he saw you, he would always say hi, and we'll definitely miss that in the time that he's gone. But he'll be back. It will be a long road to recovery, but at least he'll recover. That's better than the alternative."
How close are you to Jack Roush?
"I'm not terribly close to Jack, but we are friends. He's a competitor, and a darn good one. I like Jack because he's built a heck of a situation over the years. A lot of people envy him. He's got over 2,000 employees, and he's a guy that went from rags to riches solely on hard work. And I'll tell you, his cars are hard to beat, no matter what level you're racing on."
To add to your weekend at the track, you'll be visiting another Yellow terminal on Friday. Are you looking forward to talking to and getting to know the Yellow employees in California?
"I always look forward to that. One of the first Yellow terminals I visited was in Chicago, and it was pretty cool. I went to the terminal in Dallas a few weeks ago, and that was fun, too. Those guys and gals look forward to talking to you, and you can see they're really involved with it because they ask questions about this race or that race. They know what they're talking about. It's always a good time to be able to talk to those people, because if it wasn't for those guys working their butts off, we couldn't be doing what we're doing."