Spencer making 200th Busch start this weekend. Providing "excitement" for the 200th time. CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 17, 2002) -- The general fan consensus about Jimmy Spencer has never changed. Many love him, some don't. Many cheer him; others...
Spencer making 200th Busch start this weekend.
Providing "excitement" for the 200th time.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 17, 2002) -- The general fan consensus about Jimmy Spencer has never changed. Many love him, some don't. Many cheer him; others jeer him. Many view his driving style as one enriched with a competitive attitude only found in an endangered generation of drivers. Others see it as just plain ruthless.
Love him or hate him, he'll make you react. And there is no entity that gets greater pleasure from that than NASCAR, for it's a name like "Mr. Excitement" that generates a buzz no matter the outcome.
The NASCAR Busch Series has been a prominent stage for Spencer ever since his arrival in 1985. He has 12 wins to his credit, the last four of which have come with the #1 Yellow Racing team and owner James Finch. He also has 44 top fives and 89 top 10s in 199 career starts.
Spencer's 200th Busch Series start will come this weekend in the MBNA All-American Heroes 200 (1 p.m. EDT on TNT), adding him to an esteemed list of drivers who have accomplished such a feat. To Spencer, the milestone is insignificant in the fact that it won't get Team Yellow to Victory Lane any easier this Saturday. But for those who've been entertained by Spencer the past decade-and-a-half, the milestone is a benchmark to a career that has left everyone nodding their heads in amazement.
Whether those nods are up and down for approval or side to side with contempt -- well, that all depends on who you're sitting beside.
Driver Jimmy Spencer's thoughts --
Here we are, talking about your 200th Busch Series start. Does that even seem possible?
"No, not really. I think you start to lose count after about 10. I know I've been in a lot of races in the Busch Series, but I didn't know I was at 200 already. That's kind of cool. I've got a lot of memories racing in the Busch Series. I've been through the highs and the lows, but all of it has culminated into learning experiences -- not just as a driver but as an owner as well."
Some feel that your resurgence last year in the Winston Cup Series had a lot to do with your success with the #1 Yellow Racing team in the Busch Series. Do you agree with that?
"I don't think there's any question. When you're a confident driver, you're a better driver. We started winning races last season with James Finch and the Yellow Racing team, and it not only boosted my confidence, but it also boosted the team's confidence. It proved to them they were still building cars capable of winning races, and it proved to me that I could win races as a driver. When I joined the Yellow team (five races into the 2001 season) everything clicked, and I think that enthusiasm carried over with me to my Cup team.
"You know, the Busch Series has been good to me, and it's been really interesting to see how it's progressed over the years. You look at the competition in this series -- it's impressive. There are a lot of good drivers running Busch cars who are going to find themselves in good Winston Cup rides one day."
Do you remember your first-ever Busch Grand National race at Rockingham in 1985?
I thought Jimmy Spencer never forgets.
"Yeah, but that was a long time ago."
OK, so we'll change the shirts to "Jimmy Spencer Never Forgets Anything Recently." Let me ask you this: So much talk has focused around the drivers' ages. In your opinion, when is a driver too old to race?
"That's a good question. I think it probably varies. I look at the guys in Winston Cup right now, and I see guys in their 40s still winning races. Look at Sterling Marlin, and Mark Martin, and Ricky Rudd, and Dale Jarrett, and Bill Elliott. Rusty (Wallace) still contends for races, and it's only a matter of time before he wins again. I still think I can win. I don't know how much longer I'll do this, but I can honestly say that the day I think I can't win races anymore is the day I'll hang it up. I'm confident we're going to win with Team Target (in the Winston Cup Series), and I'm confident we're going to keep winning with Team Yellow."
Speaking of winning in the #1 Yellow car, your 200th Busch start will come at a track you won at last year.
"Yeah, that was a cool win. We won on pit strategy. We were running ninth and there was a caution for rain. We decided to pit for four tires and gas, while everyone else stayed out. Their thinking was the race wasn't going to be restarted, but we felt that it would. (Crew chief) Marc Reno said he saw blue sky in the distance, so it was the obvious choice for us. Then everyone else pitted when they realized there would be a restart. We restarted about 10th or so, but all the cars in front of us were on old tires. We took the lead and held on to win. It was a great call by Marc. That decision gave our team an advantage on those guys who had old tires, and it gave us track position on those guys who had new tires and gas to go the rest of the way. We didn't have the best car, but we ended up in the best place."
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