Dale Jarrett travels to Daytona International Speedway for this weekend's Pepsi 400 as a four-time Daytona winner. This weekend's Pepsi 400 marks Jarrett's 21st time competing in the annual Fourth of July event. He has won the Pepsi 400 one ...
Dale Jarrett travels to Daytona International Speedway for this weekend's Pepsi 400 as a four-time Daytona winner.
This weekend's Pepsi 400 marks Jarrett's 21st time competing in the annual Fourth of July event. He has won the Pepsi 400 one time, scored
In his last 10 starts in the annual Pepsi 400 Jarrett has seven top-11 finishes, including four top-five finishes, one of which was a win during the 1999 event. Additionally, Jarrett has only one DNF in his last 10 Pepsi 400 starts, which was the result of an accident on lap 135 in the 2002 event when he finished 35th.
In his last 14 starts at Daytona, Jarrett has only two finishes outside the top 16 (the aforementioned 35th-place finish in 2002 and a 22nd-place finish in the 2001 Daytona 500 which was the result of an accident). During that span of 14 races, Jarrett has scored three wins (two in the Daytona 500 and one in the Pepsi 400), four top-five and eight top-10 finishes.
Also during the last 14 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series races at Daytona, Jarrett has started from the pole three times.
Dale Jarrett Discusses Racing at Daytona
Is Daytona a track you look forward to at this point in the season?
"It is for a few reasons but most importantly right now I look forward to it because it is a restrictor-plate track and that seems to be the one part of our program right now where we aren't struggling. We're not dominating but we are capable of being decent at Daytona and know that we have all of the parts and pieces we need to perform well there for the most part."
Is it also because this is a track where you feel like you have a little more control over the outcome?
"That plays into it certainly. I know that I'm known for kind of hanging out in the back during the first part of the race but you're also starting to see other guys do the same thing. I think everyone is starting to realize that you can't win these plate races if you aren't there at the end. Rather than mess around in the middle of the pack where a lot of that jockeying for position is going on lap after lap I choose to pace myself. That doesn't mean I am just riding around though either. I will play around a little and figured out what my car is capable of doing whether that is how it does sucking up to another car and I'll try that with different cars just to see where it is going to work the best. Having said that however, I don't want to do anything that is going to put my car in a position that could create a problem early in the race. It is 400 miles even though we'll see guys out there racing like it is only 20 miles. So I'll probably be looking just to kind of hold where I'm at and move when I can, but wait until we get to that 20-25 lap to go mark and then start making some gains at that time and let my pit crew do a good job and gain some spots there."
Have the favorites at Daytona and Talladega changed?
"No, not really. I mean even when DEI seemed to be dominating these races the last few years you still had the Hendrick cars included in that mix. I think other than our win at Talladega last fall, you go through the list and there is no one but either a Hendrick driver of DEI driver that has won in a while. I know it's been a few races since Dale, Jr., won a plate race but you still have to look at him as a guy to beat when you come to Daytona. Jimmie Johnson -- he's won the last two of these races -- and he is definitely going to be someone you look for at the end as well as Jeff Gordon. But there are other guys that seem to know how to drive these restrictor-plate races and have the right equipment like my teammate Elliott Sadler. I think he had the best car at Talladega, and there are a few other guys who just run well at these tracks like Michael Waltrip and Kurt Busch."
Chassis 65 is the car Jarrett will compete with this weekend at Daytona. This will be the second career race for Chassis 65. It is the same car Jarrett raced to a tenth-place finish in the 2006 Daytona 500.