Indianapolis: Jimmy Spencer preview

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (July 30, 2003) -- As the social chair extraordinaire at Ultra Motorsports, it's impossible for Jimmy Smith to have too much fun. Take last week for instance. In a span of just seven days, this (censored for the sake of job ...

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (July 30, 2003) -- As the social chair extraordinaire at Ultra Motorsports, it's impossible for Jimmy Smith to have too much fun. Take last week for instance. In a span of just seven days, this (censored for the sake of job security)-year-old owner ...

1) ... Sold his crew chief, Tommy Baldwin, for $5 to a woman who purchased a piece of sheet metal at the Jimmy Spencer Charity Golf Tournament auction but wanted some of that famous "bundle of Baldwin love" to go with it.

2) ... Bought for himself a life-size, cardboard cutout of Jeff Gordon for the hefty price of $200, and then accidentally left Jeff at the golf course. "Where did my date go?" Smith asked later.

3) ... Went wakeboarding with Dave Briscoe, the wakeboard champion you've seen on the X Games. "I haven't skied in 20 years, so I don't know why I think I can wakeboard," yelled Smith, often called Captain Chaos by his peers.

"What should I tell your wife if you die doing this?" someone asked.

"Tell her I died having fun!"

But make no mistake about Smith, wakeboarding with Briscoe or auctioning off his crew chief still isn't as fun as racing. So in the true spirit of Captain Chaos, Ultra Motorsports will attempt to qualify a second entry for the Brickyard 400 this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Sunday, 2 p.m. EDT on NBC). The reason: Two race cars are twice as much fun as one, so the social chair extraordinaire has decided to double his pleasure at Indy.

Aside from Jimmy Spencer's No. 7 SIRIUS Dodge, Ultra will prepare the No. 07 SIRIUS/H.H. Gregg Dodge to be driven by Ted Musgrave, who pilots Smith's No. 1 Mopar Dodge truck in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Musgrave's truck team, led by crew chief Gene Mead, will service the car this weekend as it attempts to make one of NASCAR's most prestigious races for the second year in a row (Musgrave finished 21st in last year's Brickyard 400.)

With Indy weekend now upon us, Smith and Spencer sit down to talk about the upcoming race, and how this weekend could prove, yet again, that Captain Chaos can never have too much fun.

Team SIRIUS owner Jimmy Smith's thoughts:

I guess the first question is why two cars this weekend at Indy?

"Well, we ran two cars in the Brickyard 400 last year, so this isn't anything we haven't done before. Ted Musgrave finished 21st in the 2002 race, and we feel we can do even better this year. Teddy tested really well (at IMS two weeks ago). I think he was second or third fastest for the day, so I fully expect the 07 to make this race. This race pays exceptionally well, so you have more people trying to fight their way into the field. I believe there are 53 teams trying to make a race that has only 43 spots. It makes it fun."

Do you think having a second team there, assuming it makes the race, will help the No. 7 SIRIUS team?

"Absolutely it will. Just being able to share information is very beneficial. At the test we had one team trying one setup and the other team trying a completely different setup, and then we compared the results. I think both cars should run well this weekend. The 7 team is bringing the same car it tested so well with here and finished 15th at New Hampshire. It's a new car, and we feel good about it."

Your trucks are racing at IRP (Indianapolis Raceway Park) Friday night, and both of your truck drivers will be attempting to qualify for the Brickyard 400 (Jason Leffler will be driving the No. 0 car for Carl Haas). With IRP about 20 miles away from the Brickyard, do you foresee any conflicts with the schedule and the commute?

"No, the only time we'll really have to hustle is on Friday getting from Truck practice (noon - 2 p.m.) to Cup practice (2 - 4 p.m.), but we've got a helicopter lined up that will get us there quickly. Other than that, we'll be fine. I'm looking forward to a good truck race Friday night (Power Stroke Diesel 200 is slated to start at 9 p.m. EDT on SPEED Channel). I've always liked racing at IRP. It's one of the most exciting races you'll see all year."

What do you think about the Brickyard?

"The hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I drive through the tunnel at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It's one of those places I will never get tired of going to. I remember when someone came up with the idea to run stock cars there, and the Indy drivers were saying, 'No, you can't do that. Only Indy cars should race here.' I always had this image in my mind of Tony George sitting there weighing his options: 'Let's see, do I keep with tradition and let only the Indy cars race here? Or do I open it up for stock cars and make an extra $60-$70 million a year? Hmmmm, this really isn't a hard decision to make.' The Brickyard is one of those places that humbles you, because the best of the best have raced there."

It seems like only yesterday the NASCAR Winston Cup Series began racing at the Brickyard, yet this is the 10th year of the Brickyard 400.

"Time flies by when you're having fun, doesn't it?"

Was time flying by when you were wakeboarding in New Hampshire?

"Oh man! I'm ready to do that again. That was as much fun as I've had in a long time. We met Dave Briscoe at The Naswa Resort (in Laconia, N.H.) one night and he offered to take us out on the boat the next day and let us try wakeboarding. I acted all big and bad, and said, 'You just tell me a time to meet you, and I'll be there.' When the next morning rolled around and my thoughts were clear, I was wishing I hadn't said that. But I went out there anyway, because it wasn't like I could say, 'Actually, Dave, I'm having second thoughts.' It was so much fun. I'm ready to start doing stunts now."

By the way, inquiring minds want to know if it's true you left your pricey cardboard cutout of Jeff Gordon at the golf course last week in Pennsylvania.

"Either that, or he left me. I'm not sure what happened to Jeff. I hope somebody is taking good care of him, because he didn't come cheap."

Team SIRIUS driver Jimmy Spencer's thoughts:

Soft walls have been added to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something you've been advocating for quite some time. As a driver, does it somewhat ease your mind knowing soft walls are now in place?

"I know first hand what it's like to hit hard at Indy. In the very first Brickyard 400 (driving the No. 94 McDonalds car for Junior Johnson) I hit the wall in turn 3 and broke my shoulder in two places, broke three ribs and suffered a concussion. I think it was the hardest hit I've taken in a Winston Cup race car. I guarantee there were no soft walls then. I missed the next four races because of that hit. So anything that can soften the impact is a step in the right direction. We've seen some scary crashes at the Brickyard, and I think soft walls are going to really take away the severity of those accidents. We'll see how it goes, but I'm already convinced it's the right thing to do."

This weekend you'll be driving the same car you raced at New Hampshire (chassis No. 057), although that wasn't the original plan. Why the change?

"It's pretty simple; it tested better. We feel the New Hampshire car gives us our best chance to win, so we're running with it. We had built a car for Indy, but it didn't test well. We tested the New Hampshire car the same day, and it was fast. We are very confident in our decisions. Tommy and the guys do an incredible job adjusting these race cars to make them faster. In the past four races we've finished in the top 15 twice and finished 23rd and 22nd in the other two races. That doesn't seem like much, but it's a huge turnaround from our performances in June (finished no better than 29th in four races). So we know we're heading in the right direction. I think if we have the horsepower at Indy, we'll be in the top 15 again. I feel we've lacked horsepower the past few races, and that's something we're continually working with Mike Ege to fix. I said it last week and I'll say it again. I fully support Mike and all the guys he has working for him. We're down on horsepower, and he knows it, and he's working his butt off to fix it, just like our guys are working hard to build better cars, and I'm working hard to drive them better."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jason Leffler , Jimmy Spencer , Ted Musgrave , Tony George , Junior Johnson , Tommy Baldwin