Fontana: Dale Jarrett - Ford interview

Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Ford Fusion, finished 10th in last week's Daytona 500 and is looking for his first victory at California Speedway. DALE JARRETT -- No. 88 UPS Ford Fusion HAS DAYTONA SET THE TONE FOR THE REST OF THE...

Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Ford Fusion, finished 10th in last week's Daytona 500 and is looking for his first victory at California Speedway.

DALE JARRETT -- No. 88 UPS Ford Fusion

HAS DAYTONA SET THE TONE FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR? "I can't see it slowing down any or getting anymore calm. Obviously, that restrictor plate racing gets everybody keyed up a little bit more, but the competition at all the other tracks has gotten so close and every position, every point is so important now. It wasn't that way before we started with the chase deal, but everybody -- especially after two years -- you see that you have to get every position and make every point that you can so you're a little more on edge all the time."

DO YOU THINK NASCAR IS GOING TO HAVE TO GET INVOLVED MORE AT SOME OF THESE BIGGER TRACKS? "I think they made their point that they will get involved. They don't want to, but they probably want everybody to know that they will if they have to. We generally at a majority -- especially these bigger race tracks -- you don't see as much of that because we get spread out a little bit more. Short tracks, yeah, you always get into the beating and banging and tempers flaring, but we seem to work it out and go on about our business. I think you probably need to know that they're there if they need to, but I think they don't want to do that. They want to leave the racing part of it to the drivers on the track and let us handle that."

WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE BUMP DRAFTING AT DAYTONA? WAS IT WORSE THAN NORMAL? "No, no worse. I didn't say anything else because it obviously didn't make any difference. They don't listen so why talk. It's just part of the racing. I think that I saw a lot less of it in the early and mid part of the race. I think we reserved a majority of it to getting towards the end and then it's time to go and you have to do whatever means you have available. We've just been painted into such a small box because we have so few things we can work with to try to make our car better than someone else at those restrictor plates, so it's just a product of that. By the time you get to 450 miles it's easy to run out of patience and then everybody starts trying to position themselves to be as far up front as they can. But I think things went pretty well for most of the race."

WHEN YOU SAY THEY DON'T LISTEN DO YOU MEAN THE YOUNGER GUYS DON'T LISTEN TO THE VETERANS? "I don't think you can put it on the younger guys. Everybody has their own way that they want to go about doing it and a lot of people just view that that's how it's gonna be. I'm not against it. I'm against it in the first 100 miles of a 500-mile race. What advantage is it then? You can't win the race at that time, but you can certainly lose it for yourself and others. That was my only point. When and the places that it was taking place. Obviously in the tri-oval is a terrible place to get hit because you're usually two or three wide through there anyway, and if you get hit it's not a good place. I just went about my business and NASCAR stepped in and did theirs, so it seemed to work."

DO YOU EXPECT YOUR CREW CHIEF TO TAKE THINGS RIGHT TO THE EDGE AS FAR AS TRYING TO GAIN AN EDGE BECAUSE IF HE STEPS OVER THAT LINE IT PUTS YOU IN A BAD LIGHT. "It certainly puts the driver in a bad light because 95 percent of the time we have no idea that anything has been done like that. But I do expect him to take it right to the limit. That's the way we've always raced. If you're gonna be any good at it, that's what you have to do. There are very few people out here that at some point in time haven't been caught at something. I've heard comparisons about if other sports did that, but they do. In football there's holding. What do they think that is? That's cheating. If you knock the receiver down, that's cheating so you get a penalty. That's no different than what we're doing here. In basketball, if you foul a guy that's going in for a layup, that's cheating. It's just looked at a little differently because here it's bending the rules."

IS IT ANY WORSE THAN WHEN YOUR FATHER DROVE? "No, it's a lot more calm now than when my dad drove. There were so many more things they could do. They didn't have template one to put on their cars to start with, and then there weren't a handful of officials in the whole area, so they couldn't keep up with anything that was going on. The rule book was pretty thin at that time, but, oh my gosh, there was a lot of things going on. Obviously now every move that's made in here is caught on camera or somebody sees it and writes about it or something. It's just magnified a whole lot more now."

IF NASCAR BUILT IN MORE GRAY AREA WOULD THAT ALLEVIATE THIS A LITTLE BIT? "It certainly would, if we didn't have as many templates. But the reason there are more templates is because these guys in this garage area are smart. They're extremely innovative and very smart. It was to the point that NASCAR couldn't hire enough people to keep up with everything that was going on, so they had to step in and make it to where the rules to where they could keep up with what we're doing as much as possible. Obviously, they still have a hard time at that. Yeah, they could build in some areas that we could kind of do things our way and the crew chiefs and people could do that, but you'd have to be careful to not lose control. The reason the template came was to keep the manufacturers from building a new car every two years. When somebody came with something new, then you had to have something different and we were getting all of these changes. Aerodynamically, they tried to equal things up as much as possible and make their job a little easier."

IS THERE ANY ROOM FOR BUMP DRAFTING HERE? DIDN'T YOU GET HIT BY EDWARDS LAST YEAR? "My deal was that I had a damaged race car and I was trying to let the leaders go by where they had been running and he took the opportunity to run up on the high side and try to make a move on those guys that I had given the bottom side of the race track to and ran into the back of me. Again, I had a damaged car and that's what upset me about the thing, but, yeah, you get a little bit here but it's more of a push. You don't run into each other nearly as hard here. It you're going that fast, you're gonna run around the guy and just drive on and make that pass. You can do that here, where at Daytona you can't just pull out and go."

-ford racing

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Series NASCAR-CUP