BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 20, 2002) -- What excites Mr. Excitement? Jimmy Spencer says Bristol. The high banks, the short straightaways, the bumping, the banging, the packed grandstands, and of course, the winning. Yes, the 45-year-old driver of...
BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 20, 2002) -- What excites Mr. Excitement? Jimmy Spencer says Bristol.
The high banks, the short straightaways, the bumping, the banging, the packed grandstands, and of course, the winning. Yes, the 45-year-old driver of the #1 Yellow Chevrolet knows his way to Bristol Motor Speedway's Victory Lane. In 1997 he beat Steve Park to the checkered flag to earn one of his 11 career wins. Now, Spencer returns to the half-mile oval with a car and a team capable of sending him back to the winner's circle, if only his luck will change. A blown engine in the spring race last season ruined a chance for the win or a top-five finish. In the fall, Team Yellow brought back another fast car, but the #1 Chevy was caught in the middle of a backstretch incident that hindered the aerodynamics of the Swamp Holly orange machine.
drops for the Channellock 250 on Saturday. He was running in the top five last week before falling victim to a broken rear-end gear with 12 laps to go. It marked the second time this year a top-five finish was squandered due to mechanical mishaps in the closing laps.
The Channellock 250 is slated for a 12:30 p.m. (EST) start and will be televised live on FX.
Driver Jimmy Spencer's thoughts --
After running at a track you're not particularly fond of, you're now returning to a track you love -- Bristol. What is it about that track that is so appealing to you?
"I've just always liked Bristol. If you can't get pumped up for Bristol, you might as well not even go to the track. I don't know about other people, but I get excited just going to that track. Bristol is the hardest ticket to get, no doubt about it. The racing there is the most exciting. The fans love it, and it's always packed. It sometimes makes me want to be a fan, just so I can sit back and enjoy what goes on there."
I guess there's not a whole lot of time to sit back and enjoy it when you're in the driver's seat, right?
"Bristol is a lot like Darlington in that you can't take your mind off what you're doing. It's tough. The thing about Bristol is you've got to stay on top of it the whole time. You never get a chance to relax. But sometimes, the more aggressive you get, the worse you run. It's a complicated place to drive."
So do you tend to try and establish a rhythm and take it easy, or do you drive it hard?
"You certainly can't take it easy. The moment you take it easy, the other cars catch you real quick. Lapped traffic also plays a big part in that race, so if you take it easy, lapped cars can become a problem. When something happens at Bristol, if you're not paying attention, you can be involved in the accident before you realize it. That's happened to us a few times, and there's just no time to avoid it. You really have to be sharp. I think Bristol tears up more cars than any other track. You can be driving along, and before you know it, six, seven, eight cars are taken out, just like that."
How would you assess the season so far?
"We've had good cars, and we've had good runs. We just need a little bit of good luck. At Daytona we were running second and cut a tire down late in the race. We had a pretty good run at Rockingham. Last week (at Darlington) we were in position for a top-three finish, and then a rear-end gear broke. It's just one of those things.
"Something else we are seeing this year is guys dominating races. I couldn't believe how good (Jason) Keller was at Rockingham. And then we go out to Las Vegas and Darlington, and Jeff Burton dominates both those races. We didn't see that last year. We didn't see guys just totally dominate races."
Car Chief Johnny Allen's thoughts --
This Bristol race is one the Yellow crew members have had marked on the calendar for some time. Why is that?
"Well, I think we're going to a track where we know we have a chance to win. That always makes you look forward to it. Bristol is a pretty good deal. It's an exciting race track, and Jimmy likes running there. It's really just another week, but we ran good in both races there last year, so it ought to be exciting."
How frustrated are you that the #1 Yellow Chevy has run so well but seems to be hampered with bad luck?
"As long as we keep running good, we'll eventually catch a break and win a race. It's frustrating, but you figure out in this business you've got to take the good with the bad and the highs with the lows. It's too much of an up and down deal. It will wear on you pretty hard if you don't take it all in stride. There's luck in everything you do. As for the stuff that's happened this year, it doesn't have anything to do with the guys here in the shop or the driver in the car. There's nothing anybody can do to prevent cut tires or broken rear end gears. If we were having pieces fall off the car, then we'd have to ask ourselves questions about what we're doing wrong."
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