Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Windsor, Ontario
Spencer suing Ganassi for breach of contract
February 7, 2003
7:13 PM EST (0013 GMT)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Jimmy Spencer has filed a breach of contract suit against car owner Chip Ganassi over his firing at the end of last season. The suit also accuses his former boss of sabotaging his racing career.
Spencer is seeking $600,000 -- the difference between the salary he would have made driving for Ganassi this season and what he is due to make this year driving for Ultra Motorsports.
Ganassi, who saw the suit for the first time Friday, said Spencer's claims are "without merit."
"It's ridiculous, we never even had a signed contract," Ganassi said. "We kept bartering back and forth during our original negotiations and we never got to a final agreement. I don't owe him anything and he knows that."
Spencer was hired at the end of the 2001 season to what was believed to be a three-year deal. Without revealing who had hired him, he said in October of that year that he had a "handshake agreement" to leave car owner Travis Carter for a new team.
Spencer, who filed the suit Tuesday in Mecklenburg (N.C.) County Superior Court, drove the No. 41 Dodge for Ganassi in an extremely disappointing season.
He failed to qualify for the season-opening Daytona 500, missed another race later in the year and finished 27th in the points.
Ganassi told him with two races left in the season that he was firing him at the end of the year. Casey Mears will drive the car this season.
But Spencer alleges in the suit that Ganassi harmed his Busch Series deal with car owner James Finch, for whom Spencer drove 23 races for last season.
Ganassi is monetarily assisting Finch this season and the lawsuit claims that the terms of that agreement required Finch not to employ Spencer as the driver.
Jamie McMurray, a Winston Cup driver for Ganassi, is one of a handful of drivers who will race Finch's Busch car this season.
"If anyone believes I sabotaged Spencer's Busch deal, that's just laughable," Ganassi said.
The suit seeks damages of no less than $10,000 for Spencer for his lost opportunity for employment with Finch. It also seeks payment of money Spencer says he is owed for souvenir and collectibles sales for the third and fourth quarters of 2002.
Spencer referred all questions to Bill Diehl, his Charlotte based attorney.
Diehl said the lawsuit was the only way Spencer could settle the dispute, claiming Ganassi refused to negotiate.
Ganassi denied that, claiming he flew from his home in Pittsburgh to Charlotte last Sunday specifically to meet with Spencer, but Spencer never showed up at the meeting.
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
He just needs to learn how to drive.