CHARLOTTE, N.C., (March 21, 2001) - Even though hiring NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Jimmy Spencer will forfeit Phoenix Racing's share of the money plan awarded to last year's NASCAR Busch Grand National Series top-25 finishers, Yellow Racing...
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (March 21, 2001) - Even though hiring NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Jimmy Spencer will forfeit Phoenix Racing's share of the money plan awarded to last year's NASCAR Busch Grand National Series top-25 finishers, Yellow Racing car chief Johnny Allen says his team has a more important concern this week - winning Saturday's Cheez-It 250 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
"The Yellow Racing team is going to Bristol with the attitude that it takes to win, and I think Jimmy will be right there with us," said Allen when asked about why Spencer was hired as an interim driver for this week's race at the .533-mile oval. "He really focused in on our Busch deal last week in Darlington (S.C.). This weekend, I also expect Jimmy to do real well. Bristol is a demanding race track, and who the driver is will factor into how the team does at Bristol. The driver's skill really comes into play at that track, and that's why we wanted an experienced Winston Cup driver."
With the new NASCAR regulations increasing both the horsepower and weight of Busch race cars for the 2001 season, the Busch machines are now comparable to Winston Cup specifications. The similarities, according to Allen, convinced Phoenix Racing that there are some advantages to putting a Winston Cup driver in the seat of the #1 Yellow Racing Chevrolet.
"The biggest reason why we would want to run a Winston Cup driver at a Busch race is the experience," said Allen. "Now that the Busch and Winston Cup race cars are so similar, a driver from the Winston Cup series can bring the information he learned from the Cup side and apply it to our race car. It's almost like we're a multi-car race team.
"It always helps when the driver can diagnose the problem himself," said Allen. "With Jimmy in Darlington, all we had to worry about was fixing the race car. Our driver (Spencer) was allowed twice the practice time as regular Busch drivers because he was also driving his Winston Cup ride in practice. With all his experience and the extra time on the track, he was well prepared for Saturday's race.
"The disadvantage to bringing in a Winston Cup driver is financial," added Allen. "Busch teams lose the plan money if they hire a Winston Cup driver. Between the winner circle money and the plan money, James (Finch, Phoenix Racing owner) gave up close to $9,000 a race to put Jimmy in the #1 Yellow Racing Chevrolet. Fortunately, Phoenix racing is more concerned about its performance on the track then trying to save a few dollars."
This weekend, Spencer will finish his interim two-race deal with Phoenix Racing. Spencer, who also ran in Darlington for Phoenix Racing, replaced driver PJ Jones after the first four races of the 2001 season. The driver of the #1 Yellow Racing Chevrolet for the remainder of the season is yet to be determined.