Martinsville II: Dodge - Jimmy Spencer

JIMMY SPENCER (No. 41 Target Dodge Intrepid R/T) "I think NASCAR looks at everything. They've put a lot of drivers on probation over the years. I think Todd (Bodine) did something wrong at Charlotte, and obviously a lot of other competitors did,...

JIMMY SPENCER (No. 41 Target Dodge Intrepid R/T)

"I think NASCAR looks at everything. They've put a lot of drivers on probation over the years. I think Todd (Bodine) did something wrong at Charlotte, and obviously a lot of other competitors did, too. They decided it was time they needed to do something about that situation and they did. You have to live by the rules and you have to abide by them, too. What do I think? I think that was a good decision on NASCAR's part.

"You'd have to ask NASCAR (if they need a bad boy). I guess Tony Stewart was criticized earlier in the year. I don't know what brought that on. I guess it was temper or whatever. NASCAR brought him into the trailer and got all that straightened out. Now he's leading the Winston Cup Championship, and I'd like to see him win it. I like Tony a lot. He's good for this sport. I think some things that were said in the past, you can't have guys with no emotions getting out of these cars. Darrell Waltrip, Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, Cale, they all had personalities. Today, some of the Winston Cup champions have been pretty boring in my eyes. Tony would add a lot of spice to the series. Personality-wise, I think he's the type personality to win the Winston Cup this year. I think Sterling would have own the championship We know what happened to him at Kansas City, so I'd like to see Tony win it.

"Tony could be a rivalry with anyone. I don't know if you'd want to call it a rivalry. I think they're all competitors in the garage area. They all want to beat one another. I think sometimes emotions flare. I don't know if there's any rivalry in Winston Cup racing so to speak. Things are so competitive any more. So many teams can win races. I don't think you'll ever see a dominant team again. Over the last two years, Tony has shown he can run up front consistently, just like Jeff Gordon. There's a possibility (of Gordon-Stewart rivalry). I think Watkins Glen was a pretty neat deal when they got together and didn't give or take. They both tried to take and they both got crashed. To a certain point, I think the fans need that. I think our sport needs that. It needs a little controversy ever so often. If we don't have that, we'll be in trouble. The Winston Cup Series was built over controversy over the years. That's why we need to be here at Martinsville. There won't be too many people at Martinsville saying 'I hope they don't put tire marks on each other today.' They're all hear to say, 'I hope to hell there are tire marks and some flares flying and tempers.' The whole nine yards. I think that's part of it. I think it's good for the sport. It's healthy.

"You guys don't realize how critical the decisions that are being made at the shops on Monday morning are and the engineering that goes into these cars and the crews making the right decisions and the way everything is structured in house. I think the Dale Earnhardt period is over. Dale Earnhardt is the best there ever was at taking a fifth-place race car and winning a race with it. Today, I don't think you can take a fifth-place race car and win a race with it. You have to have a car that's capable of winning the race all day long, sort of like Elliott was at Indianapolis. You knew going in that he had his whole package together. I said how good Sterling's team was. It goes to show that Chip picked the right guy. He's going to be very important to our organization next year, but also, that team is very, very strong. That's what you're seeing with Ryan Newman's and Jimmie Johnson's team, Tony Stewart's team. All these teams are very, very strong, a lot stronger than people will listen to the drivers. The drivers are confident in these teams. They'll tell you to jump off a bridge and you'll survive it and sometimes you believe them. That's the confidence you need in your team. It's showing every week in Winston Cup.

"There is a certain amount of computer technology into it, but still it's the crew, the shock guy, the crew chief and the engineer and the vast knowledge of everything that's been done over the last 15 or 18 races. I don't think the computer is setting up the car. It still comes down to the people turning the wrenches and making the decisions.

"I don't why he (Jeff Gordon) is complaining. He qualified second. That's the way I look at it. I think it's the same for everybody. I'm sure he knew about it before he came here. Our guys knew about it. I think they were just trying to make it a better race for the fans. Sometimes we complain because we're just looking for excuses, but I think Martinsville was trying to make this a better race and I think it will be a better race on Sunday.

"I don't know. I'm going to leave that up to Andy Graves and Tony Glover and Chip. I think we'll be making some changes (to the 41 team) over the winter. We'll see.

"I think it would take away a little bit, but on the other side it would say our team and Sterling might deserve to be the Winston Cup champion. I really feel like they can do it (win owner's championship with 40 car). I think Tony and Leroy (crew chief Lee McCall) and those boys can win the owner's championship. They're trying. It's a possibility, and I guess you'd have to write something.

"It's been pretty effective (points system) over the years. I think it should be decided over the whole season and not three or four races. I think the points system is pretty good the way it is based on the system of running well week in and week out. You've got to keep running good at Martinsville, Texas, Kansas City, everywhere we go. I think the points

system is fine the way it is. I do think that the other thing that should be restructed is the TV money, winner's circle money, everything, but that's another bowl of apples. They're happy with the way it is, but I don't think some of the drivers and owners are.

"There comes a time where our sport is one team. We've said before how good the teams have to be. We compare ourselves to baseball and basketball teams. In fact, we beat baseball and basketball pretty bad. We're on a level with the NFL. If the quarterback gets hurt, they bring another quarterback in. They don't back them up 10 yards every time. I think we should have one championship team, not an owner and a driver. I think NASCAR needs to look at this situation and say, 'OK, this guy is hurt pretty bad.' That team is the Winston Cup championship team and they have to have waivers in there where if a driver gets hurt... Like on a road course, I love the road courses, but they take me out because they say I don't do good, but when you come to the road courses, you can't say your driver has a stomach ache and can't drive. That's not right, and NASCAR knows that, so they've got to figure out a way how to phrase that for the rules. When a driver does get hurt like Sterling, I don't think the 40 team should be handicapped. If the 40 team does win the championship, it's still going to be the driver they recognize. The media might credit the team for a week, but by the middle of the summer they ain't going to remember the 40 team won the championship. The driver won the championship. I think there should be more emphasis on the team. I think when a driver gets hurt, NASCAR forces us not to go to the hospital. NASCAR forces us in a lot of ways to drive hurt because you lose the points. I think that's something they're looking at now, trying to straighten it out, maybe establish one team as the whole thing and no such thing as driver points and owner points. It's one team point and that's what everything is judged off of. I think the winner's circle needs to be gone. It needs to be divided between 43 car owners. A whole lot more teams are struggling in our sport than eight or 10 healthy car owners.

"The TV money is based off previous years, and the Target Team will not get on the TV money for many, many years ahead simply because it's never been good in the points. I felt like the 26 team when I left Travis we had that thing on the bonus TV plan and I didn't reap any of those benefits. That's fine because Travis did. Let's face it. Some of these car owners don't need as much money as they're getting, $200,000 to win and 30th place is getting $30,000. I think there's too much variance there, and I think that's really separating the field. We've got to look at some way of trying to rectify that.

"I think most of the drivers suggest what the car is doing and then the team has to figure it out. It's obvious there are some really smart people in this garage area, and they're the ones consistently running up front. I think every team is based off how the crew chief wants the driver to relate it to them. Some crew chiefs want it 'just tell me what the car's doing and I'll fix it.' Some want the drivers to tell them what to do to fix it. I think Rusty

Wallace is different from myself or whatever. Listening to some of the stuff that's going on, I think there's a communication factor that's necessary in winning races. It's the crew chief and driver really trusting one another and making decisions. It's not based on one person. I think that's some of Rusty's problems. He makes the decisions from there and then the crew listens to him. I think the teams that are very successful are the drivers and crew that agree or disagree on what they're doing to try to get the car better.

"I think it's a little bit of both. I think Martinsville is pretty neat because you know you're going to get some very close racing. It's demanding because it gets very hot inside the car. The brakes get very hot and you still have to take care of the car all day long. Most of all, I think it brings back a lot of memories for us drivers. It reminds us of Saturday nights when we all ran in the Winston Racing Series. That's what brought me into this sport. I think if we ever lost Martinsville or Richmond or Bristol, our sport would be going in the wrong direction. I think we need short tracks for that reason, and I think they're very enjoyable. I enjoy racing Martinsville. I love it a lot. I know there's been some complaining about the grinding of the race track, but we'll know in the next two hours where we stack up. I think it's going to be a good race, and I think the drivers enjoy it. I know I do.

"I'm shocked that Chicago, Kansas City, Texas didn't duplicate a Richmond or even a Rockingham. Those tracks are really exciting. It's two or three wide racing. I know Texas has been crucified over the years by drivers, and they have every right to be because they never listen to the drivers or car owners on how to build a race track. People pick on Kansas City and Chicago. They don't pick on Richmond or Bristol. I think if they had to do it over, they might say we should have built a Richmond. That's water under the bridge and we've got to go there and race anyway.

"I think it's up to the people that the owner hires to get along and work and try to get a common denominator working in favor of that particular team. We're doing that at Chip Ganassi Racing. I feel like it's a two-way street. It's not one way. We can sit here all day long and talk about what we did wrong all year long, but all-in-all I think we're going to be a lot better next year as a race team. Andy and them will fix it for me. I really trust Andy Graves a lot. I think he's an excellent team manager. We'll get it figured out.

"I think we have too much horsepower in Winston Cup cars. I think we need to look at slowing the cars down with a carburetor rule or something. I think we'll even have better racing than we have already. I think that's obvious with Sterling's injury in Kansas City. We're going too fast. I don't think the fans care how fast we go. I think they care how much competition there is. The bottom line is if the cars are slowed down a little bit, there will be more confidence going into the corner alongside somebody at Kansas City or Chicago or wherever. I also think it would give the drivers more margin for error. That's the key. I think eight or 10 mph is very critical in what a driver can do or can't do. I think NASCAR needs to look at that. I think NASCAR needs to look at how we can slow these cars down. One of the ways is to kill some horsepower.

"I think Jamie did a great job in that car (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge last week). It's hard to say (if I could have won in it). I feel like he was put in a situation and that boy took a lot of pressure. The key to that whole issue was Leroy and Glover. They instilled a ton of confidence in that boy and calmed him down and did everything right. Once again, I think a lot of things in this sport you guys are missing, crew chiefs, team managers and stuff like that, that's the key to our sport right now. We need to do something with that 41 team to get as strong as the 40 team. It just goes to show you that it's not all driver. I wouldn't want to be in Andy's shoes trying to figure out how to fix the problem, but it's obvious I wouldn't change anything on the 40 team, so I'd try to figure out how too make the 41 team as strong as the 40 team.

"I think the principal's office keeps you straight. I can handle Chip, he's minor. I'm not worried about him. Principal Mike's the one you can't handle. Then you go to the dean and that's Big Bill. When the dean calls you in, you're in trouble. Me and the dean are tight. I talked to him the other day. He's doing good. That's one of the strongest men in all of the United States believing he can beat something. He'll be back next year strong."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Jimmy Spencer , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Richard Petty , Chip Ganassi , Bobby Allison
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing