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NASCAR SPOTLIGHT: JIMMY SPENCER

CAR: No. 23 Ford Taurus.

AGE: 41.

HOMETOWN: Berwick, Pa.

NOTES: Spencer's second-place finish last weekend at Talladega was his best since winning at Talladega in July 1994. He jumped from 14th to 10th in the Winston Cup standings.

Q: What is the difference between this year and last, when you were 30th in the standings?

A: The team has really grown well together. We had a lot of growing pains. When we'd have a good run, the following week we'd seem to have a bad run. We couldn't get our heads screwed on straight and could never get regrouped. It would take three or four races. As competitive as it is, if you have a bad week, you better forget about it and come back the following week. I think that's the biggest thing this team has done this year.

Q: What is your life like and how do you balance your time?

A: I think a Winston Cup driver's life is good. To be in the position in front of a national TV audience and the national media coverage we get now, we're becoming pretty popular people. I think we treat Monday and Tuesday as our weekends. The biggest problem is you don't have the weekends when the kids are at home.

Q: How do you make time for your children?

A: A lot of times they go to the races, but a lot of times they stay home. They're at the age, 12 and 10, where they really have a lot of friends. But I try to spend as much time as I can by making sure I'm at home every night Monday through Wednesday.

Q: Do you mind being called Mr. Excitement?

A: Originally, Mr. Excitement came from being aggressive and giving it your all. I still do that, but I do it in a more mature way and Mr. Excitement still comes out. It's good for me.

_ JOANNE KORTH

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