BUSCH: Richmond: Jimmy Spencer preview

RICHMOND, Va. (April 30, 2002) -- The city of Richmond will one again be draped in Swamp Holly Orange for one simple reason: Yellow owns Richmond. The ...

RICHMOND, Va. (April 30, 2002) -- The city of Richmond will one again be draped in Swamp Holly Orange for one simple reason: Yellow owns Richmond.

The #1 Yellow Racing Team conquered both NASCAR Busch Series races at Richmond International Raceway (RIR) last season in overwhelming fashion. Driver Jimmy Spencer led a combined 361 of the 500 laps to claim the sweep at the exciting, three-quarter mile oval. Should he win a third straight race at RIR this Friday night in the Hardees 250 (7 p.m. EDT on FX), Spencer will join Harry Gant as the only drivers to win three consecutive Busch races at the track.

Aside from his two wins, Spencer has four top-five finishes and seven top 10s at Richmond. RIR is also the site of Phoenix Racing's first Busch Series win, which came in the spring of 1996 with driver Jeff Purvis.

Looking for more good fortune at one of his most prosperous tracks, Spencer talks about the upcoming weekend at Richmond, as well as the pressures of being the reigning track champion.

Driver Jimmy Spencer's thoughts --

This is a race you've been looking forward to for a long time. What are the chances of returning to Victory Lane for a third straight time?

"I think we have a really good chance. We tested at Richmond a few weeks ago, and we were really fast. You always have confidence when you go back to the tracks where you've won. Last year, the Yellow team put together a really fast car, and we won both races. I think we'll be just as fast this time, if not faster. When you've run well at a certain track, you hope you don't have to change a whole lot, maybe just a few improvements. I really like Richmond, always have. I've been so close to winning at Richmond on the (Winston) Cup side. It's exciting for the fans. It's good short-track racing."

If you win, you'll join the company of Harry Gant as the only drivers to have won the Richmond Busch race three straight times. That would be pretty good company, wouldn't you agree?

"Yeah, but you have to win it first. It would be great to win Richmond a third straight time, but if that happens, then naturally we'd want a fourth, and then a fifth. Our first goal is to get qualified. Once we do that, then we'll go after that third straight win. I think we can do it. And if we do, then it will be an honor to be mentioned along with Harry Gant. He was a great race car driver."

You mentioned testing at Richmond. Is it true you tested a new car there?

"We brought the old car that won those races, and we brought a new car also. We tested them, and they were both fast. I think the new car is actually faster, so we'll probably use it. The big thing about testing is getting the driver comfortable so he'll know what to expect. The more a driver knows, the better he'll be able to communicate to the guys. You can never know enough at a place like Richmond."

You talk about returning with confidence. Does that hold true for the whole team as well?

"Yeah, I think so. They're confident about returning to Richmond, and they should be. They put together really good cars for that track, and we won both races there last year. At the same time, Goodyear has a new tire, and the engine has more horsepower, so it's not like the situation is exactly the same. We feel it pays to test at places we're really good at. If there's such a thing as staying on top of the game in racing, we're trying to at Richmond."

What is it like to run the night race at Richmond?

"I think the night races at Richmond are awesome. It brings a whole different aspect to the sport, from both the drivers' perspective and the fans' perspective. The cars look nicer under the lights. And I don't know how other drivers feel about it, but I think I can see better under the lights. You can't necessarily see the track better, but you can see the other cars. That's another neat thing about racing under the lights."

Car Chief Johnny Allen's thoughts --

The burning question -- which car are you going to use as your primary? The new car, or the one that won both Richmond races last year?

"We felt the new car was just a little bit better, so the new car will be our primary for the race. We ran both of them (at testing), the old one the first day and the new one the second day. The old one is still very fast and it's got a good track record, but you've got to go with what you think is your best equipment."

You were with Phoenix Racing when the team won its first ever Busch race in 1996, which came at this race track. How did that win differentiate from the two you won last year?

"There was a big difference. Last year, we dominated those races. Jimmy led most of the laps last year. In '96, we didn't dominate. I think we had a caution with about 10 laps to go. We put four tires on and came out in fourth. From there, Jeff (Purvis) just drove it to the front and we won."

Do you foresee a big difference in the way you'll set up the car this year?

"There are things that are different from last year, but it's just little stuff here and there. The tire is bigger, and the track has been resealed. But that's not a big thing to worry about. Really, it's the same general deal as always. I think after the test a couple of weeks ago, we're ready for it."


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About this article
Drivers Jimmy Spencer , Jeff Purvis , Harry Gant
Teams Phoenix Racing