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NASCAR Careers In Reverse
4 big NASCAR names not where they'd like to be for 2003
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"I would like to see Travis Carter have some success. He seems like a good guy. I really liked the way he and Jimmy Spencer worked. Too bad that didn't last."
EMMPGH
 
 Related Resources
• What you need to know about 2003
• Evernham: Racer Innovator Leader
 

Dateline: January 6, 2003

The mad driver/team/sponsor/car shuffle that happens every year called the NASCAR "Silly Season" sometimes leaves drivers out, but never before have four solid NASCAR names felt the pinch so drastically. Jimmy Spencer, Kenny Schrader, Bobby Hamilton and Casey Atwood have all moved dramatically backwards since 2002.

Softest Landing

Of the four, Jimmy Spencer has the best hope of maintaining his 2002 performance. After getting booted from the Ganassi/Sabates #41 Target Dodge Jimmy has found a home with Ultra Motorsports driving the #7 Sirius Dodge. This wouldn't be so bad if they were still affiliated with Ray Evernham but he pulled out towards the end of 2002.

After competing in only 34 of the 36 races in 2002 Jimmy ended up 27th in points. If he can overcome his new team's low provisional standing during the first few races and if BAM can maintain sponsorship for him Spencer could manage to equal that finish this season. He should consider 2003 a giant success if he makes it into the top 25 at the end of 2003.

At Least He's Still In Winston Cup

After running all 36 shows in 2002 for MB2 racing and M&M's Kenny Schrader only managed a 30th place finish in the points and ended the season without a single top ten. This left him looking for a job at the end of the season as he was replaced by Jerry Nadeau.

The best ride Kenny could find for 2003 is with the underfunded, less experienced BAM Motorsports #49 car that Shawna Robinson (and five others) drove in 2002.

Kenny hasn't won a race since 1991 and almost certainly won't break that winless streak this year. Heck, he will do well just to get in the show most weeks. Schrader should seriously consider hanging up the driving gloves.

Gone, But He'll Be Back

Casey Atwood had the world by the tail a few years ago when Ray Evernham tapped him as Bill Elliot's teammate to lead the Dodge charge back into Winston Cup. But Casey was brought along too quickly and just couldn't learn it all fast enough to keep the ultra-competitive Evernham happy.

After finishing a dismal 35th in points last year in the #7 Ultra Motorsports car it looks like Casey is going to end up in the Busch series for 2003. This is a good place for him to continue to develop his skills and get more experience. I don't think we've seen the last of Atwood in NASCAR Winston Cup racing.

He's Got Job Security

Bobby Hamilton was injured during a truck series race in Richmond and missed some Winston Cup races in 2002. Unfortunately his Andy Petree #55 team lost it's sponsor for 2003 so Bobby has had to make other plans.

Bobby will drive for himself in the Craftsman Truck Series while he waits for word on Petree's sponsorship. If Bobby runs the full truck schedule he will definitely be a threat to win the Championship there. Hamilton is probably the best stock car driver not in Winston Cup and will most likely find some replacement rides during the season as he fishes for a full-time and fully-funded ride for 2004.



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