CHARLOTTE, N.C. (February 26, 2002) -- Mr. Excitement goes to Vegas. Sounds more like a movie straight from National Lampoon's film archive. Jimmy Spencer will indeed make the cross-country trek to Las Vegas this weekend, and he'll have the ...
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (February 26, 2002) -- Mr. Excitement goes to Vegas. Sounds more like a movie straight from National Lampoon's film archive.
Jimmy Spencer will indeed make the cross-country trek to Las Vegas this weekend, and he'll have the #1 Yellow Racing team by his side. Team Yellow is looking to continue its momentum in 2002 with a win in Saturday's Sam's Town 300 Busch Series race -- an event Spencer has had marked on his calendar for some time, and for good reason. Consider this:
Team Yellow tested at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in late January and was extremely pleased with the results; the team will be taking a brand new car to run on the 1.5-mile, D-shaped track; Spencer won the Sam's Town 300 back on Feb. 28, 1998 when he qualified seventh and raced his way to Victory Lane; Team Yellow is coming off its first top-10 of the season with a seventh-place showing at Rockingham (N.C.) last Saturday; Spencer scored the first of eight 2001 top-10 Winston Cup finishes at LVMS, racing to a 10th-place finish after starting 19th.
If that isn't enough, there is one more unavoidable fact that has Spencer eyeing this weekend's race, which will air live on FX at 3:30 p.m. (EDT): Mr. Excitement loves Las Vegas.
Jimmy Spencer's thoughts --
The fact that you've won one of the five Busch Series races run at Las Vegas must make you pretty excited to return to the track.
"I haven't run a whole lot of Busch races there, I think only three times. But I won one of them, so that was nice. It was in my own car, my own team. It was a big honor to win that day. Any time you win it's an honor. The first time I ever went out there, I fell in love with the place. I love to race, so to me I don't think I'm any better off there than say Darlington, or Bristol or Daytona. I just had a good car that day. I think a lot of it has to do with the car that's prepared for you that day."
Is it just something about the track that attracts you or fits your driving style, or is it something else?
"I just like Las Vegas. I love visiting there. I think it's the neatest city in the world to visit. There are so many things to do: golf, amusement parks, and some of the greatest restaurants around. Whatever you want to do, Vegas has it. And the people out there are really receptive of our sport.
You're coming off a strong run at Rockingham in which you were running second with 65 laps to go and eventually finished seventh. How pleased were you with the way that race unfolded, and do you wish you would have chosen a different strategy toward the end?
"I really wish we would have pitted there with about 65 laps to go. (The Busch Series) puts a limit on tires, so we wanted to keep our last set of tires for the last run, and the caution never came. That hurt us. It cost us from being a top-three car, and instead we ended up seventh."
Aside from the race, you'll also be meeting a lot of people from Yellow in the first big hospitality event of the season. Are you looking forward to that?
"It's a lot of fun to do stuff like that. You go out there, and whether it's Las Vegas or Miami, or wherever we race, you get to meet people from different parts of the country who work for Yellow, or they're just big fans of the Yellow race team. It's one of those deals I think it's pretty neat.
"I think it's a neat opportunity to meet the people no matter what you do for a living. I'm fortunate to be driving a race car, and it allows me to get to meet a lot of different people. The fans always ask questions about what's going on with the car, and it's fun to explain stuff to them from my perspective, which they don't get to hear too often. They never ask a dumb question. It's always a question that they just want an answer to, so I just try to give them a straight answer. It's fun to go to hospitality events and meet the fans. I wish I had more time to do it."
Car chief Johnny Allen's thoughts --
Las Vegas is a track this team tested in late January. How did that test go?
It went pretty good. It was extremely cold, so we couldn't really work on qualifying runs. I think the high got up to 48 degrees, and when it's that cold, the tires are so hard, and it takes awhile to get them heated up. I remember the 2 car (owned by Richard Childress Racing and driven by Johnny Sauter) was out there testing as well, and they wrecked because the tires had just not heated up. So we worked mainly on race stuff, and I think we learned a lot from it. I'd say it was a pretty good test."
Are you as excited as Jimmy is about racing at Las Vegas?
"It's like I said awhile back -- it's another hat, and we've got to figure out how to make it fit. I tend to be excited about Las Vegas because Jimmy runs well there. When he's excited, it makes the team excited.
"Las Vegas is a real racy track, because there is so much room. I remember when it first opened up, they were running three- and four-wide down the front stretch. You obviously can't do that in the corners, but it's a big track that allows the cars to race each other. But when it comes down to it, the best-handling cars are going to be the ones that do good."
You've had Jimmy as the driver for this team for almost a year now. How has it been with having Jimmy -- a Winston Cup driver -- pulling double duty with this Busch program?
"Having Jimmy on board allows us to have all the resources of his Winston Cup team. That's a big deal for a Busch program, because it's hard to do because of money. But I'd say the biggest plus of having a Cup driver is the experience. Jimmy brings a lot of experience to our team. He knows his stuff."