NASCAR Winston Cup Preview
Topics: Winston Cup
January 18, 2003
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
MODERATOR: Have Jimmy Spencer joining us.
JIMMY SPENCER: This is nice compared to down in the basement. We moved up; didn't we?
Q. Jimmy is with a new team this year, the Jim Smith team. I think Jimmy may have a unique story or an exciting story that he wants to talk about because I think your optimistic that this team can do very well this year.
JIMMY SPENCER: Thanks. Denny, you're all right. That's a good way to start into it. I think we are optimistic. Let's see how it all comes out. J S and J S together with Tommy Baldwin I think will be pretty good. We will just have to prove it, I guess. I can't say no more. I figure they got questions. They are all questioned out. Duke is leading the ball game.
Q. You have had several rides during the last ten years, do you feel this could be your last chance to get it done?
JIMMY SPENCER: I haven't had really a lot of rides. I was with Travis for seven years. It's special here today in remembrance of T. Wayne; what he has done and what we are here for today. It's a neat deal that we get here to raise money for charity. A lot of things are overlooked all year long what Winston and R.J. Reynolds does for our sport. I'm proud to be here. I don't think it's my last hurrah. I never in my life had been so optimistic about a ride as I was last year, and, man, I am so excited to be out of that situation, so how do you approach this stuff. I'm really excited about being on board with Jimmy Smith. I think the guy has proven in the truck series, he has done very well. And he hasn't had success he has in the Winston Cup Series. Tom Baldwin came on board, Tommy had a lot to prove being fired where he was. I'm being fired for where I was. And Jimmy Smith collected both of us and put us in a room and so far they have assembled a heck of a bunch of guys. Me, personally, I don't know when I'm going to retire, far from it. Do I think it's my last hurrah? No. I think I will be around this sport a long time. As long as that desire is in your stomach to keep doing good, you can survive. The other team about what people are missing in this sport, I think I had a deal with -- Denny, where did we do that, Martinsville, we had that breakfast?
JIMMY SPENCER: A guy like myself I remember watching Steve drive, and driving in the mini stock. He won that night. I raced against his dad. That was the first time I ever met Steve. The Winston Cup is a future for everybody. The young drivers like Steve one time, get an opportunity to drive in Winston Cup. But the sport has changed, the Dale Earnhardt days, Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, ultimate drivers, in my opinion, those days are over. You can't win races -- you can't even run in the top-10 without the pit crew not having any mistakes, without engines not having any problems and most of all the car handling all day long. If you don't have that rapport between a bunch of the guys, the crew members getting a long -- Darrell Waltrip, he believed he could tell his -- I think if he turns his body back around this track, they would try it, that's the reputation he had with his crew members. That's why he is (three-time) Winston Cup Champion. You guys are overlooking how important the people that work on these cars are right now. It's obvious if you don't get along, you learn in your lifetime that there are other things to do than stand there and constantly go through and argue and battle every day of your life. That's why you look to go to other teams; that's why you look to get other crew members. Everybody has a personality and you try to utilize their personality and ego to benefit everyone involved in that team and carry that to the next level and that's what we are hoping to do.
Q. Was it tough to find a ride this off-season even for a veteran like you with as much experience as you have?
JIMMY SPENCER: Yes, it was, with what happened there toward the end of the year, I was told I was going to be driving and right after Rockingham I would get a phone call, not even a face-to-face and get fired. I've never been fired in my whole life so you could imagine the traumatic thing you felt. But anyway, that's another chapter. You can sit here all day long, I can sit here all day long and talk about things I did wrong, things that they did wrong. That's water under the bridge. That's trying to reach for something that's not there. I just looked for something that wasn't available out there, there wasn't a lot of stuff. Floyd and myself was -- we couldn't -- you know, those people were asking me to drive their car, they filled their vacancies. So I'm very fortunate that Jimmy, he had another driver that he wanted in the car. When I became available, he made a change and Tommy said there is no question I want Jimmy in the car if we can get it. I was ecstatic that it happened. It's going to be a cool deal for me. I am looking forward to it.
Q. You and Tom Baldwin are a couple of intense guys, how will that play out on Sunday afternoons? How are you guys going to put it together?
JIMMY SPENCER: I think that it's going to be based on respect. I think Tommy respects Jimmy Spencer because I respect him. When Tommy tells me something -- we had our first test this week at Daytona and I think we built a good relationship. My race shop is right next to our Winston Cup shop. I can cross through the field there, so I'm going to do some gardening, I told him I'm going to put a stone path there and a gate in the back, Jimmy already agreed to put the gate with a code that I can get from his fence to mine. I love to mess in the garden. I think it's going to be a good deal. I think that the advantage that I have in this organization that I felt like I have lacked in all of the other organizations is the person asking me what I think, saying what do you think of this person before we hire them and what do you think we need to do here. So it's already started with where we disagreed on some things already. We agreed on some things already. The thing I like about Tommy Baldwin, I like his dad, his dad and I are good friends and it goes back to the '80's. The one thing that I admire in any person is hard work; is a diligent effort of trying to be successful, Tom Baldwin is, without a question, a very devoted hard worker and conscious of what's going on, and the way he operates in the shop, so to me, I'm looking forward to it. I think that Donny Wingo and I had a great relationship. It was because he was a hard worker. And I think we had a lot of successes because of that. I feel the same thing with Tommy. If I tell Tommmy I think I got a flat tire, Tommy is not going to say stay out on the race track for a couple of more laps. He will say get your ass in here and get it fixed. If it was a mistake on my part he will say what we can do for the rest of the day to get this position back. That's his job. He knows his job. I think it is going to be good. Time will tell.
Q. You have had so many impressive runs in the Busch Series the last couple of years. Do you have any plans for Busch this year?
JIMMY SPENCER: I do. I actually fired up my own race team. I'm looking for a sponsor right now. We are going to race Bristol on our own. We got a beautiful facility, always planning for the future anyway. It happened so late for everything. It's like someone was trying to put me out of business. I'm a pretty tough guy. I have been in some tough situations. I have a lot of faith in the good Lord. Learned from a lot of people, Junior Johnson, T Wayne, Bud Moore. I can name the guys I respected in this sport and was taught a lot, too, and I am still learning every day. I think we will fire that Busch team up and we will be a factor. We need a sponsor without a question. Been offered a couple of rides from some other teams. Not happy with the situation. I think we will do it our own. Right now we are looking for a sponsor. If we with get it, we will try run 15 or 18 races. If not, we will run as many as I can afford to do.
Q. You said you got the bad news by phone call. Didn't get it face-to-face. I'm wondering if you ever did get a face-to-face meeting and an explanation of what went wrong? And you said you started last season with the highest expectations of your career. What in your mind went wrong last year?
JIMMY SPENCER: I don't know. That's behind me. I feel like if a man to a man, if he has a problem he should go face-to-face with him. And if you ever get in trouble with NASCAR they don't call you on the phone. They call you on the phone for a meeting. That's one thing I've always respected about Bill France. He can get it straightened out. That's over with. What went wrong last year is over with. I can stand here and point fingers; they can point fingers, but that's old news.
Q. What are your thoughts about situations in which a multi-car team or two guys are running up front and one of the guys would rather perhaps block the rest of the field to let his teammate win rather than pull out of the line and challenge for the win himself?
JIMMY SPENCER: I don't know about that. I don't really think that's what happens. Sterling and I at Daytona had that situation. Michael and Junior had that situation. Junior said it the best, he came to try to win the race. I don't think that drivers look at it as saying I have to protect him and block all of these cars so my teammate can win. I think there is a little bit of probably more respect amongst the drivers that our team members say it's the Roush team or Hendrick team or whatever. There is probably a little bit more give and take in those situations. I think all in all not one Winston Cup driver is going to block another one from winning a race. I also feel like if it did happen, NASCAR, as you all know, monitors every driver's radio; if you say some things you shouldn't be saying, you get in trouble with that. We are being scrutinized all the time. I think if you try to protect your teammate to the point of trying to win a race, other than what's normal, I believe you would really be in hot water for it. I don't think NASCAR would accept it. I don't think the fans would. Your sponsor wants you to win whether you are racing your teammate or whatever. You can't feel you are racing your teammate as much as you feel you are racing the other 42 competitors. That's the way I race. I think most everybody else does that way, too.
Q. What do you think about the new autograph policy in the garage and have you had any situations where it got out every hand for you?
JIMMY SPENCER: I think that what happened last year in the garage area, I think what happens in the garage area in general is that I don't think that we can barge in when you guys are doing typing or when you are working. I think that's the same situation that NASCAR has looked at hard in how can we help these team members and crew members and the drivers out. Bill France wanted no autographs at all in the garage area. That would be neat. But he also knows that wouldn't be right because the fans made our sport what it is. I think the new rule is a pretty good rule. Sunday morning everybody can come in that garage area, that's fine. But when these guys are working on these cars 10 or 15 minutes before practice and then like 30 minutes after there will only be the team members involved, I think you have to respect NASCAR's decision. It's a new policy. We need to try it. I am sure that they are open to changes if it doesn't work out. I think it's a good rule that is going to help alleviate the chance of hurting somebody. You guys don't have any clue of what we go through coming through that garage area trying not to hit somebody. Man, I have been one of those fans. I look forward to meeting a football player or whatever, and you get so excited about seeing Johnny Bench, whatever, that you avoid Mark Martin coming in, you say oh, there is Johnny. Man, there is Mark Martin and here comes Johnny and nobody intended to hit anybody but we have been very fortunate nobody has been hit or backed over. I just thank the good Lord for that. I think NASCAR is putting this stuff into to not alleviate the autographs - we don't mind signing the autographs. We just don't want anybody to get hurt. That's the key.
|Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library|