Originally created 11/07/02

NASCAR notebook

AVONDALE, Ariz. - Last Saturday, 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 this Sunday at the Phoenix International 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," Ganassi said. "Obviously, both of us are not happy with the results."

While no replacement has been hired, Bobby Hamilton, Hank Parker Jr. and John Andretti 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.

Spencer joins Hamilton, Joe Nemechek, Casey Atwood and Ken Schrader as Winston Cup regulars without a ride for 2003. The only openings are with Andy Petree, Ganassi and Ultra/Evernham Motorsports.

MARTIN, ROUSH CONSIDER CHALLENGE: Roush Racing and driver Mark Martin don't plan on taking NASCAR's 25-point reduction 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 41/2 coils, and the spring on Martin's car after his second-place finish had only 43/8 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 Emerson 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 fulltime 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 lat week was really good, and he is going to have a good weekend."

PIT STOPS: Dale Earnhardt Jr. threw his support behind Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the days before Tuesday's elections. The son of racing legend Dale Earnhardt made radio commercials supporting Bush. The governor helped push through the Earnhardt Family Protection Act, which requires a judge's order to view autopsy photographs ... Harold Holly has left his crew chief position with ppc Racing and driver Scott Riggs on the NASCAR Busch Series. He's probably headed to Richard Childress Racing to work with Jeff Green's Winston Cup team ... As expected, Casey Atwood was fired from Ultra/Evernham Motorsports. Jason Leffler will finish the last two races in the No. 7 Dodge.


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