Outspoken Winston Cup star Jimmy Spencer will not return to the #41 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge in 2003 after being given his release from the team Ganassi co-owns with Felix Sabates after just one year of service.

Spencer, who currently sits 27th in the Winston Cup drivers standings, has registered just six top ten finishes in his tenure with the #41 Target team with his lack of form highlighted by teammate Sterling Marlin leading the points chase for much of the year and the recent exploits of Marlin's replacement Jamie McMurray.

The 45 year-old Berwick, PA native will continue to drive the Target Dodge for the remaining two rounds of the 2002 season before being released from his contract.

"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," owner Chip Ganassi said.

"Obviously, both of us are not happy with the results. I feel bad we weren't able to get the most out of our relationship, but I'm sure I'll remain friends with Jimmy. We all know he's a colourful character that no one can help but enjoy being around. No one can deny Jimmy has a lot of energy and excitement about him."

Many were predicting Spencer to have a banner year with the #41 team after scoring two pole positions, eight top ten finishes and finishing 16th in points with Travis Carter's #26 Kmart team last year. However things began turning sour during the very first week of the season when Spencer failed to qualify for the Daytona 500, a race that was supposed to mark Ganassi's long-time CART sponsors Target's NWC debut as a title sponsor.

Looking to break a seven-year winless streak when he signed for Ganassi, Spencer's season showed occasional promise, as a second place finish at Bristol in March and a fourth place effort in July's Pepsi 400 at Daytona show. But those days were far outnumbered by seemingly anonymous weekends in the middle of the pack and last weekend at Rockingham Spencer was given the dreaded 'Vote of Confidence' (British Football reference) by his team.

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates has not announced a driver for the No. 41 entry for the 2003 Winston Cup season although Spencer's departure could open the door for current CART drivers Jimmy Vasser or Kenny Brack to make a surprise switch.