Hickory, NC, February 1, 2003 The closer we get to race day; the most important question is fairly simple, "are you ready"? "I am," remarked Jason Jarrett, driver of the ...
Hickory, NC, February 1, 2003 The closer we get to race day; the most important question is fairly simple, "are you ready"?
"I am," remarked Jason Jarrett, driver of the #67 ML Motorsports team car. "The closer it gets to Sunday the more excited I get. I've talked to the guys at the shop a few more times, and it's like everything just seems to be coming together. It's been a long time since we've raced, since October. Although we've done a couple of tests, I'm just ready to get back in the car and into race mode. I think we've got a good superspeedway car, and a good chance to run with the top five; well, actually, we have a good chance to win!" said Jarrett.
The car is the same car they've raced in the last four restrictor plate races - in seasons 2001 and 2002; and they are coming off their best finish, a fifth-place at Talladega last fall. At Daytona last year, Jarrett, after restarting in the rear of the field, moved from 33rd to 18th in just three laps. A rain-shortened event put a damper on Jarrett's efforts to move into the lead pack, but Jarrett feels confident in his ability and team.
"The races I've been with ML Motorsports, I've been real comfortable with restrictor plate tracks. We always seem to be toward the front, we seem to qualify well. People seem to want to draft with us, and my car usually works pretty good with some of the faster people, like Carelli, and obviously, Gerhardt. When they know you have a fast car, and they want to work with you, it makes you that much more comfortable," said Jarrett.
"And, its not only the car, but I think Scott (crew chief) is more used to restrictor plate racing, and what changes work to make the car better. I think I know what the cars need to feel like to qualify a little better; and each time I've gone back, I've gotten a little bit better at drafting," added Jarrett "It's also a confidence thing toward that particular car. That's how it seems to happen; you get confident in a certain car and you feel like you can drive it anywhere."
Between rain delays and a problem with a spill on the track, the ML Motorsports team car was unable to get any track time in during open testing at Daytona. A subsequent test at Talladega, where they had two or three days of basically open track time, afforded this team the chance to make a lot of changes to the car to see what to take back to Daytona. The ability of Jason and the ML Motorsports crew to work together has managed to strengthen their overall package and confidence level.
"I think we have probably one of the best restrictor plate cars, in terms of body and chassis. And I think that we're going to have an even better overall package going into Daytona this time," said Jarrett, enthusiastically.
So what's the goal for 2003 - there's almost an air of resoluteness to this team's expectations during 2003. Jarrett has set the bar high; "My personal goal, to come right out and say exactly is, well, I've always been a person that believes you have to make higher goals than the next guy, or even higher goals than what you really believe you can attain, but I would be disappointed if we didn't win at least four or fives races this year. I would be disappointed, and I think the team would be disappointed. We have good equipment; we have good enough cars to win two short track races, and our car can win at Daytona and Talladega. And then we might just slide a Pocono in there, or a Kansas."
ML Motorsports just moved into a brand new state-of-the-art race shop, which has raised the spirits of everyone involved with this team and makes everyone want to step up the program a little more. If you have a first- class shop, you want to have a first-class car each and every time you roll off the trailer. This crew worked hard in the old shop, but the new surroundings seem to act as an even greater motivator; to be the best!
They are ready, eager to go, and looking for a win!