MOORESVILLE, N.C., (July 5, 2005) ----- The USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland Speedway marks just the fifth time the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series has raced at the 1.5-mile track located just outside Chicago in Joliet, Ill. Dale Jarrett and the #88 UPS Racing Team finished third in this event one year ago, the team's best performance at Chicagoland in four starts.
The UPS Team is coming off consecutive top-five finishes with a pair of fifth-place finishes in Sonoma two weeks ago and then a fifth place finish at Daytona on Saturday night. The road course and superspeedway events were considered to be wildcard type events for many teams in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and Jarrett made the most of the two tracks where anything can and usually does happen.
"You always want to try to win but I got myself in a position there to where we could get a good finish," Jarrett said about his Daytona performance. "I wanted to pull out and see what I could do, but it really wasn't worth it. I even stayed a little conservative there when the 48 got back to me and almost gave up fifth, but I was able to beat him back to the line. It was good teamwork. That's two fifths in a row and that's what we need if we're going to try to make this chase, so I'm pretty happy."
"You kind of know that things are going your way when we made it on fuel mileage in Sonoma and then at Daytona we were on pit road for our green flag stop and the caution came out," Jarrett added. "That got Elliott and I up front and got me the opportunity to lead a lap, so everything is working pretty good right now."
Jarrett Discusses Racing at Chicagoland Speedway
How far has the track at Chicago come as far as developing into a track that allows for side-by-side racing?
"I think we saw last year that there was definitely more room for passing than what we may have seen there in the previous three races. It's just a matter of letting the track age and get some grip that allows for that kind of racing. It's still a place where track position matters especially in the closing stages of the race because you aren't going to be able to pass a lot of cars in the final 20 laps or so. It should be even better this year and with the way our test went there last week I am looking forward to this weekend's race there."
How beneficial was the test the team participated in at Chicago a week ago?
"Well we hope it ends up being very beneficial. We spent the day there testing before going to Daytona and we felt the test went well. We think we picked up on a few things that are going to be helpful not only this weekend but at the other down force tracks that we'll be racing at during the remainder of the summer."
How important are the upcoming tests the team has scheduled going to be for making the Chase for the Championship?
"I think they're going to be a huge asset hopefully. If we don't make the Chase then it won't be from a lack of effort. I think after the month of June we learned we still have some things to overcome. We raced at three of my best tracks with Dover, Pocono and Michigan and didn't perform to our potential. I think we're testing something like five out of the next seven weeks with tests planned for Indianapolis, Michigan, Bristol, California and Richmond. If what we learned at our Chicago test pays off then we'll have a good starting point for getting our down force program up to speed with the teams who have been dominating this season. So we're definitely making every effort possible to get ourselves in position for the Chase."
Notes of Interest
In four starts at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway, Jarrett has two top-five finishes, with his third-place finish in the 2004 event there being his best finish to date.
Robert Yates will host a special guest during this weekend's USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland. Jack Sullivan, well-known in the NASCAR garage back in the sport's early days, is attending the event this weekend as Yates' special guest. Yates and Sullivan worked together back in the late 1960s and early 1970s at Holman-Moody Racing.
It will be business as usual for the UPS Trackside Services shipping counter at Chicagoland Speedway. As with every race weekend the shipping counter will be located in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series garage, opening and closing with the garage and staying open on Sunday until two hours after the race.
Chassis 50 is the car Jarrett will race during this weekend's NEXTEL Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway. The team tested the car at Chicago on Tuesday, June 28th prior to traveling to Daytona International Speedway. It is the same car Jarrett raced at Michigan earlier in June.