Piece Of Cake For Spencer

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RICHMOND, Va. – Jimmy Spencer is having a lot of fun in the NASCAR Busch Series these days.

The NASCAR Winston Cup Series regular, who took over the seat of James Finch’s No. 1 Yellow Freight Chevrolet a few weeks ago, dominated Friday night’s Hardee’s 250 at Richmond International Raceway and earned his first Busch Series victory in over three years.

Spencer’s last Busch Series triumph came at Las Vegas in March of 1998. The past three weeks he’s finished second at Talladega, seventh at California and first at Richmond.

“It’s really great to win again,” said Spencer, who led 191 of the 250 laps. “I didn’t know where the winner’s circle was. We’ve been running well in the Cup car recently and with the Yellow Chevrolet. Three years was a long time ago.”

A caution flag for an accident involving Hal Goodson on Lap 158 allowed the leaders to come into the pits and put on their last set of tires. Some teams, however, elected to put on two tires, and rookie Scott Wimmer was the leader on the restart on Lap 173, with fellow rookie Greg Biffle in tow.

As dominant as Spencer was all night, however, it was only a matter of time before he regained the front position. He did so from Wimmer two laps later.

Spencer never lost the lead thereafter, beating Tony Raines to the checkered flag. Mike Skinner finished third, followed by Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Green, Wimmer, Kenny Wallace, Steve Park and Jay Sauter.

The eighth and final caution flag flew on Lap 226 of the 250-lap event when Todd Bodine and Kenseth, who were battling for the fourth position, got together. Bodine spun and hit the wall, ending his bid for a top-five finish.

“That was just a rookie move by Kenseth,” Bodine said. “To drive under somebody like that… Matt Kenseth just should know a lot better than that.”

On the restart on Lap 230, Spencer pulled out to a fairly comfortable lead on Raines, but Raines wouldn’t go away. The second-place finish was Raines best of the season.

“Our car was pretty good on the short runs, but Jimmy Spencer simply had a great car all night,” Raines said. “If anybody was here at the fall race last year and watched me race, they saw a pretty big change in a year. I’m really happy.”

Spencer wasted little time in getting to the front Friday night. When Kenseth, the pole winner, experienced mechanical problems early on, Spencer shot to the front and opened up a comfortable lead on second-place Skinner.

“I beat Mark Martin at Charlotte one time in the Busch Series, and I had an awesome car that day,” Spencer said. “But I’ve got to say this is the best Busch car I’ve ever had. Man, it would just cut where I wanted it to and it had a ton of forward grip, plus we had a ton of horsepower. When we unloaded this car Thursday afternoon, I knew it was a bad-ass car.”

Kenseth made several trips to pit road to try and correct his problem early on. His crew was able to make repairs and he was able to stay on the lead lap. Following a caution flag, Kenseth was able to get the lead back for a short period of time before Spencer blew past him again on Lap 92.

Spencer and Skinner continued to battle for the lead for the next several laps. Skinner was finally able to get past Spencer on Lap 118, two laps following a restart. It was the seventh time this season Skinner has led a Busch Series race.

Spencer, however, was able to regain the point five laps later, and Skinner’s teammate, Harvick, was able to follow a lap later to take over second place.

Skinner led a few laps Friday night and continued his string of strong runs in the Busch Series since taking over the No. 21 ride from Mike Dillon.

“We got a little bit tight toward the end, but the car was good most of the night,” Skinner said. “I thought maybe if it got down to a shootout, I could move those guys out of my way (Spencer and Raines). But it just didn’t happen. It was a good race for us, though. It was a great effort overall.”

Biffle, who led the Busch Series points standings coming in, was running fifth when he and Harvick got together on Lap 194. Biffle appeared to come down on Harvick, his closest competitor in the points, and Biffle hit the wall in Turn 1. Harvick escaped without incident.

Biffle went on to finish 37th and is now 100 points behind Harvick and third in the standings. Green took over the second position in points and is 41 points back.

“It was just one of those racing deals,” Biffle said. “I thought I gave him enough room, but apparently it wasn’t. We were really tight in the corner and we were just racing really hard. It’s just one of those short-track racing deals.”

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