Story By: DAVEY SEGAL / NASCAR – DAYTONA BEACH, FL – Spencer Davis is with a new team, in a new car, with a new number in the K&N Pro Series East for 2019, moving from Danny Watts Racing to Rette Jones Racing.
But the difference’s between the two organizations isn’t as drastic as one would think.
“The transition was very smooth,” the Dawsonville, Georgia native said. “It’s been pretty seamless I feel like. I worked out of Mark Rette and Terry Jones’ shop last year running the No. 82 car, got a lot of help from Mark on the setup side. Everything went pretty smooth as far as transferring over. I already knew everyone working in the shop and we all get along real well. I already knew the flow of everything because how he runs his team is how I try to mirror my team as far as goals going into every weekend and everything that goes on.”
Plus, he had plenty of time to get acclimated to RJR once the 2018 season concluded. Davis said he’s known since the Snowball Derby in December of last season, but plenty of other people probably did, too.
“It’s hard to keep it quiet because I’m going to the same place everyday,” he said of working from the RJR shop. “But instead of working on the orange race car that I’m used to working on, I started working on the No. 30 Ford Fusion ride.”
The biggest difference for this season will be having everything under one umbrella. Davis’s No. 82 DWR ride last season received mechanical help from RJR and called them “a satellite team” for team owner Rette.
“It definitely seemed beneficial for both of us to make that partnership happen,” Davis said. “We needed a place to put the race car, work on the car, being that I was pretty much the one calling the shots on the seat, it was nice to have a person to talk to about setup stuff and for guidance. Mark did an awesome job of that last year. It showed everywhere we went, we were in contention to win, led laps, just needed some better luck on some things.”
Last year, Davis finished fourth at Iowa after battling for the lead on the green/white/checkered restart. At Gateway, he started first but was relegated to 24th after encountering brake issues early on.
Rette allowed Davis to bring over some key crew members from his No. 82 car. Something that he thinks will be a key in his first pursuit for a K&N Pro Series championship.
“It’s my first year going for the K&N championship fully,” he said. “I ran in the series for awhile but never got a shot at the full year. It’s going to be fun to go do, and I feel like all our ducks are in a row. To make it count we just gotta dot our Is and cross our Ts on everything.”
After starting 11th, he wheeled his Ford to a seventh-place finish in the opener at New Smyrna Speedway. After turning heads on test day, things went awry during the race, mainly due to the unknown variable of tire conservation on the new General Tire.
As cliche as it is, anything less than a trip to Victory Lane and a bringing a trophy home will be a disappointment.
An alum of the NASCAR Next program, he made five starts in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series last year, with two top 10s, and has 34 K&N Pro Series starts to his credit.
It’s hard to believe he’s still just 20 years old.
“I’m pretty much a veteran of this series until Brandon McReynolds comes to these races,” he said. “I have the most experience of anyone in the field. I go out there and try to win every weekend, it doesn’t matter what the circumstance is. It doesn’t matter if we only have one car and I’m borrowing springs, I still go in with the same mentality. Being able to race with Mark I know I have the tools to go do it and have the people behind me. You have to capitalize.”
As a tribute to longtime car owner Danny Watts, Rette Jones Racing opted to forgo their traditional No. 30 and put the No. 82 on the car for one final time in the season opener.
“Thankfully Danny stayed on board and came on as a sponsor for this year which I’m very thankful for,” he said. “He’s done a lot for my career and he showed he started up a K&N team to let me run. He already had the car, but he allowed me to pretty much run the team from down here (Charlotte area) since he’s based out of New York. To have him on the car, to have continued support from someone who believes in you is nice.”
As for as expectations for the season as a whole, it’s winning a championship. Something that, on paper, would be asking a lot for a driver who only has one career K&N Pro Series win (Dominion, 2016). But he and his team are up for the challenge.
“I feel like we’re more than capable of doing it,” he said. “The two times I’ve ran enough races to accumulate points, I was in the top 10 and I hadn’t ran all the races in K&N. I feel like if I get all the races like we’re going to do this year, there’s no doubt in my mind we’re a championship contender. I feel like everyone knows that. Even with my little splashes last year with running well, leading laps, I feel like it was the beginning of this awesome year we’re going to have.”
Walking comes before running, and running comes before an all-out sprint. Before winning a championship can even be a thought, Davis knows he needs to claim a checkered flag or two.
“It’s been a long time since Victory Lane,” Davis recounted while looking at his Dominion trophy. “It’s been a couple seasons and I’m ready to get back. I know we can do it this year and I know we will do it this year. Minimizing mistakes and now we’ve learned this tire, that’s gonna be a big help.”
Davis will look to build upon his season-opening top 10 run in two weeks at Bristol Motor Speedway for the Zombie Auto 150 on Saturday, April 6.