Pocono: Jimmy Spencer preview

Home sweet home for Jimmy Spencer MOORESVILLE, N.C. (June 2, 2003) - There is just something about Momma's home cooking that makes Jimmy Spencer love the part of the NASCAR Winston Cup schedule that sends the series to Pennsylvania. About 50...

Home sweet home for Jimmy Spencer

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (June 2, 2003) - There is just something about Momma's home cooking that makes Jimmy Spencer love the part of the NASCAR Winston Cup schedule that sends the series to Pennsylvania.

About 50 miles down the road from Pocono Raceway is a kitchen, and in that kitchen is the best roast beef you've ever tasted. Beside the roast beef is a nice helping of steamed vegetables and mashed potatoes, and in front of those vegetables and potatoes sits a race car driver who often wishes Pennsylvania was a neighboring state to North Carolina. If so, he'd make it a point to visit Mom more often.

Spencer is all Pennsylvania. If it were up to him, he'd wear a Penn State Nittany Lions football helmet, a Pittsburgh Penguins hockey jersey, and a pair of Rocky Balboa replica boxing trunks for his race-day uniform. Joe Paterno would be the honorary starter, and the reciting of the Gettysburg Address would be implemented into every pre-race ceremony.

If that's not enough, consider this: Last week at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, crew chief Tommy Baldwin casually asked Spencer, "What nationality are you?" to which he replied with a straight face, "Pennsylvanian." The response sparked such a chorus of laughter that some were left gasping for air.

The homecoming for Spencer, a native of Berwick, Pa., should produce one of the more vocal fan reactions you'll see this year. Aside from being the hometown boy, his popularity has increased with the emergence of the SIRIUS Dog Pound and, of course, Mongo. But the longtime Spencer fans rest their loyalty on the fact that the Jimmy you see today is the same ol' Jimmy who broke into the NASCAR ranks 15 years ago. Nothing about him has changed. He's opinionated, he's flamboyant, and he's still Mr. Excitement.

As the NASCAR Winston Cup Series prepares for the Pocono 500 (12:30 p.m. EDT on Fox), Spencer sits down to talk about his return to Pennsylvania, and whether he can put on a show in the No. 7 SIRIUS Dodge for the hometown fans.

Team SIRIUS driver Jimmy Spencer's thoughts:

How excited are you to return to Pennsylvania? "I always look forward to the Pocono races, because it gives me a chance to see my family and a lot of old friends. Plus, the fans are always fun to hang out with in Pennsylvania, because they'll start rehashing old racing stories from my modified days. There's a lot of true racing fans in Pennsylvania and New York. People forget that, but when we head up to the Pocono races and Watkins Glen and New Hampshire, they're reminded that this is true-blue racing country."

Do you have any plans for the weekend away from the race track? "Just spend time with the family. My parents still come to races throughout the year, so I see them more often than I do some of my brothers and sisters. So we'll get together, have dinner, and just spend some time together. We don't really make any extravagant plans."

Have you already put in your request for dinner? "Oh, I don't have to do that. Mom already knows. I can't wait to have some of her roast beef. She does it right. Everybody has a favorite thing their mom cooks, and no matter where you are in this world, nobody can cook it better than Mom."

What can we expect from Team SIRIUS this weekend? "We're looking forward to this race. We're testing at Michigan Tuesday and Wednesday, and then it's off to Pocono. Plus, we're planning to take the same car we ran at Dover on Sunday to Pocono this weekend. So with the two-day test at Michigan and the challenge of getting the car turned around for this weekend's race, the Dog Pound is going to be working pretty hard this week."

Do you have any advice for people who are going to Pennsylvania for the first time? "Yeah, Pennsylvanians aren't the people you want to mess with, so don't make 'em mad!"

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmy Spencer , Tommy Baldwin