CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Aug. 28, 2001) - Saturday's Dura Lube 200 NASCAR Busch Grand National Series race marks the return to the site of Jimmy Spencer's first race in the ...
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (Aug. 28, 2001) - Saturday's Dura Lube 200 NASCAR Busch Grand National Series race marks the return to the site of Jimmy Spencer's first race in the #1 Yellow Racing Chevrolet. Darlington (S.C.) Raceway's spring event was Team Yellow Racing's best performance in the first five races of 2001, and since then, the #1 team has won twice and posted six top 10s in 11 races.
"This race team was struggling a little bit before I joined them," said Spencer, who won this season at Richmond (Va.) and Dover (Del.). "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. Ever since James Finch (owner) put me in the #1 Yellow Chevrolet, we've had a lot of success. We're going to go into Darlington to have another good day."
According to Spencer, tire management used to be the best strategy for a good day at the 1.366-mile oval. But this year's thicker, more durable Goodyear Eagle tire has done a great job at Darlington. It has impressed the Team Yellow Racing driver this season.
"I don't think tires are a problem anywhere this year," said Spencer. "No matter what you bring, Darlington is going to be hard on tires. But Goodyear has done a great job. I think most drivers would agree that it is a very predictable tire. There are no surprises. If the race car is snug, it stays snug. If the race car is neutral, it stays neutral. There are very few blowouts. It's a great compliment to NASCAR and Goodyear. I hope to see more of it in the future."
If tire management isn't as important as it used to be, then what is the new secret to a strong performance at Darlington?
"I think the key to Darlington will be how the race car is handling," answered Spencer. "You need good balance and you have to conserve the race car. You don't need to be the fastest race car at Darlington, you just need to be the most consistent."
Another key to Darlington, as it has been since the track opened in 1950, is to keep the race car away from the wall. The concrete barriers seem to jump out at drivers and deliver what is known as a "Darlington Stripe" to the side of their race car. Most drivers in the Busch garage will tell you how difficult it is to avoid contact with Darlington's wall coming off turns two and four.
"Turn two is a dangerous turn, but you also have to watch turn four because it can bite you in the butt," said Spencer. "Turn two is one of those corners that the wall sort of comes out at you. At one point in the race track, you're actually outside the frontstretch wall. It's probably an optical illusion, but you really feel that you are further out than you want to be.
"It's a situation were you come up on it and want to lift off," added Spencer. "A tight race car will cause you to snap and hit that wall. I've done it many times. Turn two at Darlington is the most respected corner in racing."