Bristol: Jimmy Spencer preview

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (March 19, 2003) - The bonfire known as Bristol seems no more than a flicker when bigger issues are on the burner - such as war. For the record, this weekend's race at Bristol Motor Speedway is one the No. 7 SIRIUS Racing Team...

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (March 19, 2003) - The bonfire known as Bristol seems no more than a flicker when bigger issues are on the burner - such as war.

For the record, this weekend's race at Bristol Motor Speedway is one the No. 7 SIRIUS Racing Team has been looking forward to. Jimmy Spencer put on his best performance of the season in this event last year, one that everyone with a pulse should remember. He was leading, he was bumped, he finished second, and he vowed he would never forget. Jimmy Spencer, we were reminded, never forgets.

Perhaps there's more truth to that than we realize, for of all the things Spencer never forgets, his love for his country is certainly one of them. For that reason, there's a good chance he'll echo similar words again this weekend, only this time with a tone of appreciation, an expression of gratitude, and a wink of assurance. When it comes to the blessings in life and the protectors who risk theirs so he can enjoy his, Jimmy Spencer never forgets.

As the NASCAR Winston Cup Series prepares to hit the thrilling half-mile, high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500 (1 p.m. EDT on Fox), Spencer sits down to discuss a variety of topics, including this weekend's race, the conflict with Iraq, and what this country would be like if Jimmy Spencer were president.

Jimmy Spencer's thoughts:

You've followed this conflict with Iraq closely. Now on the week that we head to one of your favorite and most successful tracks, the United States is going to war. What are your thoughts right now?

"I wake up every morning and say a prayer for our leaders. I pray that the good Lord blesses them with guidance and leadership and wisdom. To me, I don't think either country wants to go to war, but you still have to protect the American people. We voted George Bush in, so I'm supporting him. Our country will be a lot safer by being proactive and taking care of the problems as they arise. Is this going to free us up from future problems? Not a chance. But I believe you've got to handle it one at a time, and that's what we're doing."

What do you think they should do with Saddam Hussein if they catch him?

"I think they should capture him and put him in an American prison. I'll gladly pay the tax dollars to keep him incarcerated, because he wouldn't make it out of the first shower."

How will a war affect NASCAR?

"I think war is not going to affect just NASCAR, but it's going to affect everybody. It's going to affect the economy. But as an American, I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night trusting the CIA, the FBI, the police, the military, all of them, to protect us. I sincerely believe police officers of any kind don't get the credit they deserve or the pay they deserve. They risk their life every, single day, just by going to work. How many people risk their lives every time they go to work?"

Could Jimmy Spencer be president of the United States and make some of these decisions?

"I don't think I could be put in that position because of my biased opinions. If Congress didn't pass a vote I wanted passed, I'd end up saying the first thing that came to my mind, and you can't do that. When Saddam challenged Bush to a public debate a few weeks ago, Bush didn't even acknowledge the challenge, because it wouldn't accomplish anything. It was petty. It was absolutely the right thing to do by not accepting Saddam's challenge. And that's why I couldn't be president, because not only would I have accepted it, I would've given him my calling card number."

OK, now to racing. You know people are going to be asking you about last year's race at Bristol with you and Kurt Busch going for the win. Could we see the same thing two years in a row?

"I feel really good about our chances this weekend. I think we'll have a shot to win the race, as long as we catch a few breaks. I love Bristol, I've won there a couple times in the Busch Series, and I've had really strong runs there in the Winston Cup. Last year is behind me, because I think we've got some good things cooking with the SIRIUS 'Dog Pound'. All I can hope for is to be there at the end and have a chance to go for the win. If that happens, I like our chances."

If you end up in the same situation you were in last year - leading the race on a late restart and having to hold off a hard-charging, second-place car - would you do anything different this time around?

"No, I'll race just as hard as I did last year. But it's different now because you not only have to get around me, but you have to get around Mongo, too. That's tough for anybody."

If you could compare Bristol with a SIRIUS channel, what would it be?

"Bristol is definitely a heavy metal, hard rock, frizzy hair kind of track. I'm thinking 'Hard Attack' on Channel 27. But to be like Bristol, you better turn it up as loud as it will go. There's nothing quiet about Bristol."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmy Spencer , Kurt Busch