Times are good at Misfit Racing, Inc. MBNA Armed Forces Family 400 Advance - Dover International Speedway MOORESVILLE, N.C. (May 28, 2003) -- Jim Smith has an idea. He wants to change his race team's name from Ultra Motorsports to Misfit ...
Times are good at Misfit Racing, Inc. MBNA Armed Forces Family 400 Advance - Dover International Speedway
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (May 28, 2003) -- Jim Smith has an idea. He wants to change his race team's name from Ultra Motorsports to Misfit Racing, Inc. This is, after all, an organization made up of people nobody wanted.
So call Smith the Daddy Warbucks of NASCAR, because this story has the makings of Cinderella and Little Orphan Annie all wrapped up in one. After having gone all of last season without a top 10 with driver Casey Atwood, Smith recorded his first top-five and second top-10 of the season last week in the Coca-Cola 600. Had it not been for a cut tire at Richmond, a loose oil line at Texas, and an ill-timed caution at Bristol, we could easily be talking about much more.
But Jim-Daddy Warbucks doesn't bother playing the "would've, could've, should've" card. His No. 7 SIRIUS Racing Team is already doing much more than anyone expected, and doing so with half the budget as most of the other teams in the NASCAR Winston Cup garage. Throw in the fact that "Mongo" has been a marketing dream, and Jimmy Spencer's fan base continues to swell faster than a wet sponge, there could easily be a song and dance at the end of this script. Of course, that's if you don't mind a group of misfits doing the singing and dancing.
With the MBNA Armed Forces Family 400 (Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT on FX) at Dover International Speedway upon us, one of the key players at Misfit Racing, Inc, Jimmy Spencer, sits down to discuss life with the SIRIUS Dog Pound, and what it's like to drive for the Daddy Warbucks of NASCAR.
Team SIRIUS driver Jimmy Spencer's thoughts:
You said last week it was important to start off this stretch of races on a good note. I'm guessing a fourth-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 would be acceptable, right?
"I'll tell you what the it (fourth-place finish) did. It reiterated to us that we're doing things the right way. It showed us that if we don't make mistakes, and if we get just a little bit of luck, we can be as good as any of those other cars out there. A lot of people noticed our race team this past week, but let me tell you, we didn't do anything in the Coca-Cola 600 that we haven't been doing all year as far as preparing the race car and driving the race car. We've been this good a lot this season but just haven't gotten the finishes to show for it. We could easily have had four top-fives by now. We've been that good, only to have some freakish happen. But the boys at the Dog Pound don't make excuses, and neither do I. We take the good with the bad and keep on racing."
Considering the end of last year and the whole off-season you went through, do you consider yourself fortunate to be with Jimmy Smith and Tommy Baldwin?
"I thank God every day for what he's given me. He's blessed me with a great wife, great kids, great dogs, a decent cat, and one heck of a race team to drive for. I've grown up a lot spiritually the past few years, and I enjoy spending time with Max Helton and all those guys at Motor Racing Outreach. The one thing I've learned is that God blesses those who trust in him and look to him for answers. I've driven for great car owners in my career, but don't remember being this happy. I look forward to going to the race track every week to drive that SIRIUS Dodge and talk about Mongo and tell people why they need a SIRIUS radio in their vehicles. I can't wait to go to Dover this weekend and tell people about the new SIRIUS Plug-and-Play radio that's coming out in a few weeks. I can't wait to go in there and watch Tommy make a fast car go faster. This is exciting stuff, and I hope that SIRIUS decides to be a part of it for another year because this team is going places. It's all about people. Those big-time teams can keep their technology and their money and everything else they think gives them an advantage, because we feel the most important thing is people. We've got the right people."
But be honest, Jimmy. When you came on board in January, you were coming to a team that hadn't finished in the top 10 all last year. Were you at all skeptical?
"This isn't the same team as last year. There are some guys on last year's No. 7 team that are still here, and they play a big role in the success of this team. Nuck (shock specialist Mike McCarville, also known as "Canuck" or just "Nuck") is one of them. He is an awesome shock guy, and Tommy knew we needed him. There are other guys who were on this team last year that are still here. But basically, Tommy came in and rebuilt the whole thing by bringing in a lot of new people. Jimmy Smith gave him that authority to do that, and that's a credit to him as a car owner, because he recognized Tommy's ability. So who really knew what to expect with a new crew chief, new driver, new car chief (Trip Bruce), new shop foreman (J.W. Bartok) and new crew members? We just had to have realistic goals, and that was to be a top-15, top-20 car on a consistent basis. We're still working on the consistency part, but anyone who's watched us race knows we are a top-15 car virtually every week."
Jim Smith says he ought to change his team's name from Ultra Motorsports to Misfit Racing, Inc., because this team is nothing but a bunch of misfits. Do you agree with that?
"You know what, we take pride in the fact we're a bunch of misfits. Jim is even a misfit. All these people overlook him as being a credible car owner, but you look at what he's built in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He is why that series even exists, and he's got 26 wins and he's in the hunt for the championship every year. People might not consider him as a top-tier Winston Cup owner, but you've got to remember he bought this team not even two years ago. In this sport, it takes time and people. He's got the people. Now he just needs to the time to let it grow. Like I said before, we're having fun. Mongo is having fun. Mongo just got his first top five last week, and he told me the other day that he had so much fun doing it, he wants another one."
Is Mongo a misfit, too?
"Oh yeah. He tried for years getting on Earnhardt's car, but Earnhardt didn't want him. Then he tried getting on Gordon's car, but Mongo didn't look good in a rainbow shirt. So we took him in and put him on our car, because he looks good with our color scheme. Now, everybody wants a piece of Mongo. Mongo merchandise is the hot item out at the SIRIUS souvenir trailer, especially the black hat with Mongo's image on the front. I see a lot of people wearing those hats. Before this year is over, everyone will be wearing Mongo."