ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (February 19, 2002) -- Jimmy Spencer's recollections don't dip too heavily into the afternoon of Oct. 19, 1985, but something prominent happened that day. A young, hard-charging race car driver cut his teeth on the Busch Grand ...
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (February 19, 2002) -- Jimmy Spencer's recollections don't dip too heavily into the afternoon of Oct. 19, 1985, but something prominent happened that day. A young, hard-charging race car driver cut his teeth on the Busch Grand National circuit.
Spencer, only 28 at the time, made his Grand National start at the North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham. He finished a respectable 19th that afternoon. Now, 11 Busch Series wins later, Spencer will return to the track where he made his first start, this time driving the #1 Yellow Chevy in the 1-866RBCTERM.com 200. The race will air live on FOX at 1 p.m. (EST).
Team Yellow's invasion of "The Rock" comes on the heels of a stellar showing at Daytona, where Spencer steered the #1 Yellow machine from a 22nd starting spot in the EAS/GNC Live Well 300 to take the lead at lap 33. He battled with the front-runners for most of the day, used an out-of-sequence pit stop to gain a fuel advantage, and found himself sitting in second place with fewer than 20 laps remaining. But Spencer was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop with 15 laps to go when his right rear tire cut down in between turns one and two. He finished the race 28th.
Now, with the season-opener in the books, the Berwick, Pa. native reflects back on Team Yellow's strong run at Daytona and discusses the upcoming week at Rockingham.
Driver Jimmy Spencer's thoughts --
Team Yellow built a car that was extremely fast in Daytona pre-season testing as well as in the race. Was it just not in the cards for the #1 Yellow machine to be in victory lane?
"It was unfortunate. We just cut a tire down. The Yellow Pontiac was awesome. We couldn't make it on gas, so we pitted once to get out of sequence with them. Then there at the end, we put four tires on, which gave us every opportunity to win. I think I was the only car that could have beaten (Dale) Earnhardt Jr. But you can't win on just three tires."
After a busy week at Daytona, you'll be removing the restrictor plates and racing at a much shorter track in Rockingham. What's the secret to running well at Rockingham?
"You need to handle real good there. It's a neat place to race, because it's so close to home. It's got a lot of history behind it. It's just one of those situations where you always look forward to going to Rockingham. It's got tradition, it's close to home, it's the first race in the Carolinas -- stuff like that means a lot."
Does the mentality change from shifting to a high-banked super speedway to a more flat one-mile track?
"Just like Daytona, you've got to be patient and pick your lanes. Rockingham is no different. You can't be abusive on your tires. You've got to save your tires, and you have to be consistent. That's what you try to do in practice, in practice runs, and in the actual race. Basically, if you stay consistent and keep the tires underneath you, you'll be able to run up front."
Car Chief Johnny Allen's thoughts --
Despite the finish, how fun was it to watch the # 1 Yellow Pontiac (at Daytona)?
"It's always fun when you're running good. The one thing about that is you figure out in this sport you take the highs with the lows. You don't get yourself up so high when you're running good, because you have stuff that will bring you right back down. You just take it all in stride. That way, it's a lot easier to deal with. I figured that out the hard way, because I used to be up and down. It's a stressful deal. Like the old saying, it's not over until the fat lady sings. They knew we were here. We just didn't make it to the end."
What can you tell us about Rockingham?
"It's a lot different race track. It's just a different hat. You've got to figure out how to put on different hats on every week, because we see so many different race tracks. During the middle of the month, we tested at Vegas and had a good test out there. Jimmy took his Cup car and tested at Rockingham, so we got some information from there. We tested Daytona and Vegas, so we're trading information with his Cup deal, and we feel like that will be a big help at Rockingham."