Spencer Heats Up At Phoenix

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DOVER, Del. – Jimmy Spencer is on a roll. In the past nine races – both NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series – Spencer has finished in the Top 10 seven times.

In the Busch Series, which races today at 1:10 p.m. (ET) in the MBNA Platinum 200 at Dover Downs International Speedway, Spencer has been really hot.

Driving Phoenix Racing’s No. 1 Chevrolet, Spencer nearly won the Subway 300 at Talladega Superspeedway, finishing second – in a rage – to Mike McLaughlin. Spencer followed that up by coming from 24th to finish seventh in the Auto Club 300 at California Speedway.

He then dominated the Hardee’s 250 at Richmond, leading 192 of the 250 laps for his first Busch Series victory since 1998.

Kevin Lepage took Spencer’s place in the car at New Hampshire, but the magic was gone. Lepage crashed and finished 35th. Spencer returned at Charlotte, starting 21st and finishing eighth.

Spencer’s results have been quite a turnaround for Phoenix Racing, which started the season with P.J. Jones as its driver. Jones couldn’t finish higher than 17th after four races and was let go, and Spencer finished 13th in his first race with the team.

Think the driver doesn’t make a difference? Spencer’s average finish has been 12.4 in his seven races, while Phoenix’s other drivers – Bobby Hamilton drove at Nashville – have an average finish of 27.2.

Dover is the site of his first Winston Cup start in 1989. He hasn’t won on the concrete oval, but does have two Top 5s and six Top 10s in 13 Busch Series starts here.

Dover has a reputation for being hard on tires, but Spencer doesn’t expect that to happen this time.

“The Goodyear Eagles proved themselves at Bristol this year,” Spencer said. “They’ve been phenomenal on concrete tracks. In fact, they’ve been great everywhere we’ve been this year. I don’t think the tires are going to be any different at Dover, even though the ‘Monster Mile’ is known for eating up tires.”

What Spencer is worried about is an extra pit stop he expects to make at the 1-mile oval.

“Normally, you would need just one pit stop during the race,” Spencer said. “Now, with the added horsepower to Busch engines, I’m thinking we will need to make two pit stops for fuel. With the new engine, you can’t run 200 miles on one stop.

“The new engine rules will make for a better race a Dover this weekend. Track position is always critical, but with two pit stops, teams will have more opportunities to work on their race cars. That means the field will be a little more competitive at the end of the race.”

Spencer knows a little bit about being competitive, so you could see No. 1 as No. 1 again.

Jason Keller is the defending champion of the MBNA Platinum 200 and enters Saturday’s race on a roll as of late. He’s had three straight top-five finishes and is less than 100 points out of the championship lead.

Keller’s ppc Racing teammate, Jeff Green, leads the Busch Series standings by 19 points over Kevin Harvick and 94 points over rookie Greg Biffle.

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