Spencer fired by Ganassi

Posted: Thursday, November 07, 2002

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- On Sat urday, team manager Andy Graves said Chip Ganassi Racing was ''100 percent'' committed to driver Jimmy Spencer.

On Tuesday, Spencer was fired.

Spencer will drive the No. 41 Dodge on Sunday at Phoenix In ternational Raceway and again next week at Homestead, Fla. After that, he's out of work.

''When we first made this deal, Jimmy and I agreed about what would happen if the results were not what either of us were happy with,'' Chip Ganassi said. ''Obviously, both of us are not happy with the results.''

Although no replacement has been hired, Bobby Hamilton, Hank Parker Jr. and John An dretti are possible candidates.

The success of Ganassi's other team driven by Sterling Marlin and Jamie McMurray seemed to put Spencer on the spot. He failed to qualify for the season-opening Daytona 500 and the rest of the year hasn't been much better.

MARTIN, ROUSH CONSIDER CHALLENGE: Roush Racing and driver Mark Martin don't intend to take NASCAR's 25-point re duction in the driver and car owner standings without a fight.

The sanctioning body docked them points and crew chief Ben Leslie $5,000 for an illegal right-front spring after Sunday's race at Rockingham, N.C.

NASCAR requires each spring to have a least 412 coils, and the spring on Martin's car after his second-place finish had only 438 coils.

The team is considering legal action against the company that built the spring and plans to appeal the penalty with a national panel that reviews the sport's sanctions.

FITTIPALDI ON FAST TRACK: Christian Fittipaldi, the CART driver and nephew of former Formula One champion Em erson Fittipaldi, will get his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series start Sunday.

The open-wheeled driver was supposed to spend next season getting used to stock cars before making a full-time push in 2004, but an injury to Jerry Nadeau prompted Petty Enterprises to push up his learning curve.

''He had adjusted to these big stock cars pretty quickly, and he's tested well everywhere we have gone with him,'' said car owner Kyle Petty. ''His Phoenix test last week was really good, and he is going to have a good weekend.''

Reach Don Coble at doncoble@bellsouth.net.

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