Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, held a question and answer session after today's first practice session at Lowe's Motor Speedway. DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus "First of all, I don't know how many of you know about my dad, but...
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, held a question and answer session after today's first practice session at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus
"First of all, I don't know how many of you know about my dad, but my dad is doing fine. He had some shortness of breath on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. He decided to go to the hospital and they did a catheterization and they found out he had about 90-95 percent blockage in one of his arteries. It wasn't a main artery, but, obviously, they're all important or they wouldn't be there. So they went in and put a balloon in there. I went and saw him last night at home and he's doing well. As a matter of fact, if they weren't having a member-guest golf tournament, he was gonna play golf today, so he's doing well. Everything is gonna be fine there."
"The second thing is, and if I'm addressing the wrong people here I'm sorry, but to be quite honest, I've read to where I'm going somewhere else and I'm gonna drive for somebody else and nobody in this garage area (from the media) has come and asked me if I'm going somewhere else, so I'm pissed off about it. I respect you all enough that when you come to me and ask me something, I tell you the truth. So far, nobody has come and asked me if I'm going anywhere. I am not going anywhere. I'm the driver of the 88 car until Robert Yates decides I'm too old to do this I guess. He and I are fine. Did Andy Petree come to me and ask me if I was interested? Andy Petree came and asked me what my deal was and I told him what my deal was. A lot of times there's not a lot of loyalty in this garage area. I've made a lot of friends in here. I've made moves that maybe hurt some of those friendships. I don't think they did because I still consider these people still good friends of mine when I made moves, but in 1995 Robert Yates could have probably told Dale Jarrett that he was the total problem with the 28 car. We both knew that wasn't the case, but, instead of doing that, he gave me the opportunity in another car. So I can assure you that I am very, very loyal to Robert and Doug Yates and this entire race team. Are we having problems right now? Yeah, it's pretty obvious we're having problems. We're gonna try to work through those. What we've got to do is get our race cars back in order and get back to the basics. We've got to get back to race tracks and testing. You can't win these races with these other people out here running at these race tracks and other race tracks. We're looking at a very extensive program of testing pretty regularly and that's we're gonna have to do."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHY THERE'S ALL THIS TALK ABOUT DRIVER MOVEMENT SO EARLY IN THE SEASON? "There is a lot going on, obviously, probably even more so because the sport has become more high-profile than its ever been before. Sponsors are looking for things to happen. Owners and drivers and crews are looking for these things to happen -- to win and to run up front on a consistent basis. When that's not happening, then people start looking in other directions. People around here in this whole garage area in general, if you see two people talking, you don't know what they're talking about. They may be talking about moving, but they may be talking about playing golf the next week or going out on the lake. So you really don't know what they're talking about. Obviously, things are happening now at the beginning of the year and people aren't waiting. There's a lot of pressure out here to perform and be up front. I guess I can somewhat understand that since we're not doing well, but you can't do well all the time. We've had a wonderful run here and if you look back over the years, whether it was Dale Earnhardt and Richard Childress or Jeff Gordon and Rick Hendrick -- whoever it may have been -- they had their string of where they won championships and had top fives and were winning races. We went through that too and now, unfortunately, you get on a little bit of a down side, so that does create speculation and talk. But I'm here to assure you that nothing is gonna happen with this team, other than we're gonna become a better race team again."
IS A LOT OF THIS THE FACT YOU AND ANDY HAVE A HISTORY AND PEOPLE MAKE ASSUMPTIONS? "Yeah. To be honest, it was very intriguing to even think that Andy and I started our careers together in this sport that we might have been able to finish them, but as he and I sat and talked I wished him the best. I told him if there was anything I could help him do to put this new deal together I would because I want to see him be successful. Sure, that could have kind of helped fuel the fire. It was intriguing, but even when things aren't going well here, I'm very happy with the people that I work for and the people that I'm around."
ROBERT SAID YOU HAVE A LOT OF WINS LEFT IN YOU. "We think we've got a lot left. He seemed kind of shocked when I went to him because I thought maybe it was the other way -- that I wasn't looking to leave but maybe he was looking for me to leave. I wanted to make sure we were OK there and certainly we are. He feels very strongly. I don't have a problem with the talk about all the young guys because they're doing one heck of a job out here, but I think guys in their forties and 45 and over can still get the job done out here when we have the equipment to get it done with. I think we're happy. I think we would all like for Robert Yates Racing to kind of keep what we have here, just work together and get back to the basics.
WHAT ABOUT RICKY RUDD'S STREAK? "Unless you've been to work every single day for the last 27 years or whatever he's been running -- I don't know how long it's taken him to do this, but he was telling me the other day he's been at this for 27 years and that's pretty amazing. That's quite a streak. I know I've seen Ricky at times, even just last year whenever he was in a lot of pain with his back, but that was probably the least that he's been through at times. Taping his eyes open after the crash at Daytona to where he could race, it's pretty amazing what he's done. Just to be there day in and day out is amazing and to do it at a rate of winning a race every year for 16 years, that's pretty remarkable. I hope everybody out here understands just how remarkable it really is that he's been there and done his job for all these years."
YOU WENT TO SEE ROBERT BECAUSE OF THE RUMORS? " I went to see Robert because we weren't running worth a damn, but I asked the question about rumors and he looked at me like, 'It looks like you're the one leaving,' but we're fine. That's why we've been able to succeed because we always talk. None of this has ever come up. As long as you're running good nobody ever says anything like that or starts anything like that. Hopefully, we'll get back to running good and nobody won't be asking that anymore."
WHEN WOULD A LONG-TERM CONTRACT BE RE-NEGOTIATED FOR YOU? "I don't know how far down we're looking. My contract goes through 2004 right now and that's the same length of time that UPS is here. I do know that talks have begun between Robert Yates and UPS and that my name is involved in that too for that to happen. I think they're looking for a two-year extension there, so, conceivably, hopefully, that before this year is out certainly that we'll all be looking to sign UPS back up and that I'll be the driver through 2006, if everything goes according to plan."
WILL THE ONE-ENGINE RULE HAVE AN EFFECT ON THE RACE TOMORROW? "No, not really. We've looked at these 500-mile races with the one-engine rule and we feel very comfortable with what we're seeing -- with the practice we put on at Texas and California. We were up close to 700 miles after everything was over and we feel very strong that with no more practice time than we have here, you're not gonna put a lot of miles on it. So, we don't have any concerns there. These guys are awfully good."
DO YOU THINK RUMORS CREATE DISTRACTIONS AND THAT DRAGS IT OUT EVEN FURTHER? "I'm sure it does. Our guys are all smart enough to be on the computer, so they're on there looking and seeing what somebody has written about us today. They've got questions and I try to address those guys and let them know that I'm not going anywhere. Hopefully, I'm not the problem here but if I am, we'll solve that too. But I don't think that's the case and I don't believe they feel that way, but when they read these things they just don't know what's truth and what's not. So, yeah, I think that it can disrupt things. Heck, sometimes I think somebody starts those things just to disrupt things, so we've got to work through that and we have to be better than that."