JIMMY SPENCER (No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid) NOTE: Spencer teams up with long-time friend Tommy Baldwin and car owner Jim Smith in 2003. Spencer will turn 46 on the eve of the 45th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 16. He talks about ...
JIMMY SPENCER (No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid)
NOTE: Spencer teams up with long-time friend Tommy Baldwin and car owner Jim Smith in 2003. Spencer will turn 46 on the eve of the 45th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 16. He talks about driving for Ultra Motorsports and staying with Dodge in 2003.
"I'm looking forward to this season. We're still running Dodges, and I'm excited about that. Sirius came back on board. Tommy Baldwin and I have worked against each other all our lives really. Back in the modified days and in the Busch Series and in Winston Cup it seemed like we were always trying to beat each other. Now we get to work together. Tommy is a great guy, a great personality, and I think our personalities will get along well together.
"The week before Phoenix last year was tough. It's always tough when you lose your job. Then we went to Miami, and the car was running well. It didn't turn out that great, and I was just glad the season was over. I'm really looking forward to this season. I really looked forward to the Monday after Miami to get over to the 7 shop and start talking with Tommy. I've been working with the boys in the shop. I'm just really excited about this year.
"Tommy really came in after I'd left the Modifieds, but I can remember one race when he led 201 laps and I followed him the whole race and finished second. That was a pretty big win for Tommy. He had a car he called the Bronx Bomber. I always got along well with his father and Tommy. I like a person who always speaks his mind. I like a person you always know where you're standing with him. I don't like the back-stabbing types.
"I think right now we're going to try to establish ourselves in qualifying in the first five or six races. We've got to figure out what we've got to do to get better and then carry it on to the next level. I think we can, and I think we can be in the top 10 in points. Can we do it this year? I believe we can. We're coming to the Daytona 500, and we're going to try to qualify and do the best we can. We'll go to Rockingham and try to qualify and do the best we can. We'll try to keep building this race team. We'll find out where our weaknesses are at, and we'll find out where we're strong points are. We're going to build on all the positives and squash our negatives. We'll do well.
"I don't have to prove nothing. I know I can still do it. I've got that inner desire to do it. That's all I need. I carry that inner desire to the boys who work for me. As long as those boys believe in me and I believe in them we'll be all right. It proves what Tony Stewart
did last year. You've got to believe in one another. They did and won the championship. You don't have to have the best year, but if you've got the best people working for you, you can be very successful. I've got nicknames for the crew guys. They're excited about this year and so am I.
"We're pretty far along. We tested well at Vegas, and we tested at Rockingham. We've got a brand new car for Rockingham. We've got a brand new car for Daytona. I think we're going to run well.
"I think Jim Smith has done a lot in this sport and he hasn't really been recognized for it. His truck series teams run well. He's the best Dodge truck team without a question, he's got the best truck teams without a question. Tommy and I have been using his people and we're building a good relationship between the truck team and the Winston Cup team. I think you're going to see some good things out of Ultra Motorsports this season."
TOMMY BALDWIN (Crew chief No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid)
NOTE: Baldwin guided Ward Burton to victory in last year's Daytona 500. A 36-year-old native of Bellport, N.Y., Baldwin begins his seventh season as a Winston Cup crew chief.
"Jimmy and I were part of the NASCAR Modified Series when we were younger. My dad and Jimmy used to race against each other, so we've known each other for a long time. It's all come full circle, and that's pretty cool.
"Jimmy and I speak the same language. That's what we both believe in. There's no use sugar coating it. You tell it straight out and keep digging. We all got hired to do a job, and that's what we're supposed to do, get down and after it and be successful. There's no reason we don't have the same chance as any of these other top teams in the garage. We've got great people and a great organization we're building on. We've got a lot to prove to a lot of people, and we're ready to do it.
"I feel our race cars are where they need to be. Our team is where we need to be. We're a little behind in the shop, but it was done on purpose. We're not rushing to build cars just to get cars built. We're taking our time. We had to go to the wind tunnel and do some on-track testing before we built other cars. We've got some good stuff. Our team communication is pretty strong right now, and we're looking for good things. Hopefully we can be the sleeper of the year.
"We're not in the Budweiser Shootout, but we'll watch it. The biggest thing about it is the last 50 laps. It's going to be like the 125s, and you're going to have to gauge that with mileage and pit stops and who's coming in and who's not. That will be a learning experience for everybody Saturday night. It'll be fun.
"The fuel tank is 13 and a half gallons now. It used to be 22. We can probably go 32-35 laps. Some guys will be short pitting and some guys will be going for the end. Tires will mean a little bit here, but you never know. Things change so quickly.
"I've got a lot to prove. This team's got a lot to prove, and this organization's got a lot to prove. I think Jimmy's got a lot to prove, too. I think by us pushing Jimmy Spencer, it's going to be the key to being successful. It's going to be a no-bull year. We've got to get after it. We've got to get some Sirius Satellite Radio brand awareness out there to the fans so they will keep on sponsoring us in the future. We need a long-term commitment from a sponsor for the future and build up this organization.
"It's a people sport. It's taken some time to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. I think we're at the point now where we've got the people who've got the drive to be successful week in and week out and run up front. We're not going to give up.
"I came over to this team last year after Homestead. We've got all the people in place. The cars are being built and rebuilt. The organization is getting reshifted and cleaned up. It's exciting. It's really no different than four or five years ago when I started over with the 22 car. We had a small group of people over there and four years later we had 125 employees and three teams, two Cup teams and a Busch team. We're just trying to put that core of people together again to build up a successful program."