DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 12, 2002) - Team Yellow driver Jimmy Spencer rarely has nightmares, but when he does, it usually involves a lady - Lady Darlington, to be exact. The track "too tough to tame" hasn't been too generous to the veteran driver...
DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 12, 2002) - Team Yellow driver Jimmy Spencer rarely has nightmares, but when he does, it usually involves a lady - Lady Darlington, to be exact.
The track "too tough to tame" hasn't been too generous to the veteran driver over the years, as he is still looking for his first win at the oddly shaped 1.366-mile oval. Spencer has accumulated 12 Busch Grand National starts at Darlington Raceway and has picked up a pair of top-10 finishes along the way. One of those top-10s came in the September race last year at the historic track, where he qualified the #1 Yellow Chevrolet sixth and finished eighth.
Now, Spencer's return to Darlington carries much more significance. This weekend's DarlingtonRaceway.com 200 Busch Series race will mark the one-year anniversary of Spencer's partnership with the #1 Yellow Racing team. Team Yellow used driver P.J. Jones through the first four races of 2001 before picking up Spencer for the remainder of the season. Spencer went on to win three races and two poles in the successful campaign.
The race will also carry significance for the team's sponsor, as Yellow partners with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) in a one-race associate sponsorship deal. The partnership highlights the transportation company's support of NAM and its 14 million members. NAM's logo will be featured on both rear quarter panels of the Yellow Chevrolet Monte Carlo in conjunction with National Manufacturing Week (March 18-21). The celebration is in honor of the 18 million men and women of America's manufacturing community.
The DarlingtonRaceway.com 200 will be televised live on FX at 12:30 (EST). The two-lap qualifying time trials are slated to begin at 12:30 p.m. (EST) Friday afternoon.
Jimmy Spencer's thoughts -
What is your relationship with Darlington Raceway like?
"Of all the tracks I go to, I respect Ol' Lady Darlington the most. She can be your worst nightmare, and she hands out those Darlington stripes on a regular basis. That's why they call her The Lady In Black. It's just a treacherous place to race. The fans get their money's worth, no question about it. It's a race track the drivers either come out saying 'I'm really, really happy' or saying 'Boy I just had a terrible day. I'm glad we're out of here.'"
Is Darlington the kind of track that will creep up and bite you when you least expect it?
"Absolutely. Of all the race tracks, Darlington is the one that you can get in trouble the quickest. When I say trouble, you run three inches from the wall all around the race track, and the moment you take your mind off of the wall, that's when you run into it. The track just wasn't designed for our type of racing. But on the other side of it, when you watch a race at Darlington, you'll see better races there than at any other race track."
This race last year was your first with Team Yellow. I guess time flies by when you're having fun, right?
"Darlington was where it all started with me and the race team and Yellow last year. I remember we had a good car there that day. We got into an accident and got the bumper knocked off, but we were running in the top five when that happened. We were a top-five car right out of the blocks. I left there thinking, 'Yeah, this is a pretty darn good race team.' We produced three wins last year, so it was a pretty good year."
How difficult has it been splitting time between Winston Cup and Busch, and how has running the Busch Series helped you for Sunday's Cup races?
"Sometimes I wonder why I drive Busch cars, but with a team like Team Yellow, it's fun. (Driving in the Busch Series) is obviously something I don't have to do. I just love to race. When I joined on with this team a year ago, I came here expecting to win races. That's what the team was expecting, too - no top-10s, no top-fives, just wins. I see why Mark Martin quit driving Busch cars, and why Dale Earnhardt quit doing it. From some aspects of it, there's nothing really to be gained. But I just love to race, and I love to win. I get the chance to do both with this Yellow Racing team. I (drive in the Busch Series) for the fun of it. It does allow me to gain some experience for Sundays, like what the track is going to do."
Obviously, you wouldn't have stepped into this ride if you didn't think it could produce wins. What was your opinion of this team before you starting driving for it, and has it changed?
"I don't think there is a more determined bunch of guys than the ones on this Yellow racing team. I've always been impressed with them. I looked at the operation when James Finch asked me to drive for him, and I knew that I would get good cars to race. When I joined on for the Darlington race last year, we just seemed to gel immediately. It's been a great marriage between Marc (Reno, crew chief/spotter), Johnny (Allen, car chief), the guys (Phoenix Racing) and myself. We've had a lot of success, and it's just a matter of time before we start winning races this year."
How nice would it be to not only go to Victory Lane at Darlington, but also take along Yellow and associate sponsor NAM (National Association of Manufacturers) to the winner's circle?
"It would be great. It's really neat to have NAM associated with us. I'm happy to be driving for Yellow. I think it's been a good program for them, and it's been a lot of fun for me. Right now we're having a lot of fun, and I want to win. I want to win the most races in the Busch season, and right now I'm down 0-1 to three different drivers. Hopefully we can change that at Darlington. It would be neat to go to the Winner's Circle with Yellow and the National Association of Manufacturers on the side."