Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Ford Fusion, is a two-time winner of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Jarrett spoke about returning to Indianapolis and the current situation around Robert Yates Racing before Friday's first...
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Ford Fusion, is a two-time winner of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Jarrett spoke about returning to Indianapolis and the current situation around Robert Yates Racing before Friday's first practice session.
DALE JARRETT -- No. 88 UPS Ford Fusion
YOU HAD AN INTERESTING START TO YOUR DAY. "We got the opportunity to go to the Indianapolis Colts training camp this morning (Dale, Penny Copen -- PR rep, son Zachary and one of Zachary's friends). We watched them go through their morning session and met Coach Dungy after practice was over and then Peyton Manning and Dallas Clark came by and had some conversations with them, so it was a pretty fun day."
DO YOU LIKE YOUR CHANCES TO WIN THIS WEEKEND? "I'd like to stand here and be really positive, but our goal right now with the way that we've run is getting back to running respectably. We haven't done that at all. I haven't even looked back at how long it's been since we literally could race ourselves in the top 15 -- back early in the year. We've had a lot of changes here and to think that you're just all of a sudden because you come to a place that you've won, I've been at those places too and we didn't run very good at those -- at Pocono and Michigan -- so we've got a lot of work to do here, but we have a group that's ready for the challenge and, hopefully, we can get something that will allow us to race and run well. Then if we can put ourselves in position, anything can happen. But to think that we're just all of a sudden going to leapfrog 20 or 22 of these teams that have been working just as hard as we have, that would be kind of crazy on my part to even stand here and try to tell you that and make you believe it."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE CREW CHIEF CHANGES THIS WEEK? "Robert and Doug decided that they wanted to look at doing something different and I assume that this was done in getting prepared as much for next year as anything and that's the change they decided to make."
DESPITE YOUR STRUGGLES IS IT STILL EXCITING TO COME HERE? "It's still exciting to come here. Just the opportunity to race here is exciting enough in itself. I still believe in my heart, even with what I just told you, you still want to believe that you can get in the race car and I can make a little bit of a difference here and you still have some kind of chance. But just racing here, regardless of how bad the season has been to this point, being able to come here is still quite a thrill."
WHAT KIND OF REACTION HAVE YOU GOTTEN FROM FANS ABOUT YOUR DECISION? "You've had fans react in different ways for the most part. Of course, I hear mostly from fan club members so they're sticking with us pretty good, but it's been both sides. There are a lot of people that certainly understand and are sticking with me as the driver, but then you have the diehard Ford fans that think I've totally fallen off my rocker and can't understand why I would do something. Then I have people question loyalty and things like that. We don't even want to get into that conversation because I could go down a whole list of facts of people that want to talk about loyalty, so we won't even get into that. But you understand that people are gonna have their opinions, but, for the most part, I think we've heard a lot of very positive things about the move and what could take place there. As I tell all of those people and as I've told people yesterday at two different appearances I was at, my main goal right now -- even though that's kind of my moonlighting job is to make sure everything is getting prepared and helping Michael and that group get as well prepared as they possibly can for next year -- my main focusing job as I've always said is whenever I either retired or was leaving, which now it's I'm leaving here, is that I want this race team to be in as good a shape as what it's been for the majority of the time that I've been here in racing and that's to where they could plug someone in and we could go win. We've got a lot of work ahead of us to make that happen."
HOW ARE PEOPLE AT THE SHOP REACTING TO ALL THIS CHANGE? "It's certainly a little unsettling for the guys on the race team, but I think Robert and Doug have done a good job in communicating with the race team and making them understand why they're making the changes and why Elliott and I may have looked at our decisions. They're trying to go forward now. These guys realize that there's gonna be a race team there and they're gonna race hard. It's just a matter of how long it's gonna take them to move themselves back into the top 10 of these teams, but they'll do that because those of us who know Robert and Doug know that there's a strong will there and they're gonna make all of that happen. We keep trying to reinforce to the guys on the race team that now is when they look at people and decide who they're gonna keep in their organization. The ones that are gonna work hard during these difficult times are the people that you want around, not the people that may want to think about giving up just because we haven't run well and they're making all of these changes. Now is when people can really solidify their jobs by working extremely hard and being a positive influence on everybody within this race team."
IS THERE A SENSE IT TOOK YOU LEAVING TO GET THEIR ATTENTION THAT CHANGES NEED TO BE MADE? "I don't know that. If I were in Robert and Doug's shoes, you always think that you can fix things and you can go about doing that. There were a lot of things here that we've talked about for a number of years. We kind of started down that path a few times and then we kind of made a u-turn and came back around and didn't quite get there. I think if we would have ever just made that full commitment to get there, then a lot of this might not have happened. You don't know, but I think that they're smart people and they're gonna realize exactly what they have to do and make it happen. Unfortunately, it took a lot of different circumstances for that to come about, but they'll right the ship and everything will be fine."
WHAT'S IT LIKE TO GO THROUGH THE LAST 10 RACES IF YOU'RE NOT IN THE CHASE? DO YOU FEEL IGNORED? "I don't know about that. I didn't feel that way. We won a race in those last 10 last year, so I think you keep battling hard. Certainly the attention is on those 10 and well it should be -- they've earned and they deserve that right for that to happen, but I think it's an opportunity to show what you're made of and what your team is made of that you keep working through that and trying to get better until that last lap is finished at Homestead. I look at every week as an opportunity. This is a chance that you have, you don't take for granted just the opportunity to race in these races. You don't just go and say, 'Well, we've got 10 more to go, let's just go finish this off.' That's not in my make up. I still believe that we can get better and we can draw attention to ourselves. We have an obligation to our team and to our sponsors to give it everything that we can. Just because it didn't work out that we were a part of the chase, then I think that's motivation to go work harder."
DOES IT CHANGE HOW TEAMS LOOK AT THE REST OF THE YEAR? DO THEY LOOK TOWARD THE NEXT SEASON? "I think you start doing a lot of things in preparation for that and it gives you that opportunity to do that. There will be a lot of teams that will start that process of focusing on their upcoming season and whether that's making changes or just trying some things that maybe they didn't want to get involved in before the chase cutoff, I think it gives them that chance so you see a little bit more of that."