Spencer's yearly tirade blasts team

Posted: Friday, June 16, 2000

LONG POND, Pa. -- There must be a hint of truth in Jimmy Spencer's recent tirade against his race team. After all, more qualified drivers have been fired from the NASCAR Winston Cup Series for a lot less.

Spencer attacked his car owner, his crewmen and his teammate this week, saying each lacked the focus and determination to win. He challenged car owner Travis Carter to fire him if he thought it would improve the team's situation.

He told crewmen if they weren't dedicated to winning, they should ''take your damn toolbox right now and we'll help you load it in your truck so you can get out of here.'' And he said teammate Darrell Waltrip has drained the team of resources and energy.

The truth hurts, especially when you're not winning.

Spencer is home this week for the Pocono 500 at the Pocono Raceway. Being close to home gave the driver known as ''Mr. Excitement'' a comfortable forum to vent his frustrations.

''Some people may take it very seriously and get insulted by it, and we have to deal with that,'' Carter said of Spencer's tirade. ''But with any high-strung professional athlete, you've got to deal with stuff like this. If you look back, Spencer goes through this phase about once a year. Usually during the summer. I guess the hot weather brings it out in him. These last couple of weeks, Jimmy has been going through what I call his 'annual venting season.' Things build up and the top starts to crack, things start to pop off.

''Jimmy and I are so different. He's so impulsive. I'm a little more controlled. We'll sit down and talk.''

Spencer is tired of talking, and more importantly, tired of excuses. He wants results.

So how do you make it better?

''That's their decision,'' Spencer said of the owners. ''They have to figure out what they can do. If I'm part of the mix and I need to be released, hey, I'm for it. One thing for sure, I give 100 percent every lap and I'm going keep doing that for whoever I drive for if it's them, whatever, but I'm a very, very competitive person.''

REACH Don Coble at doncoble@mindspring.com.

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