Jarrett's title hopes dashed at Charlotte By Marty Smith CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 8, 2000) If Dale Jarrett's championship hopes weren't dashed two weeks ago after a wreck at Dover, they are now. On the 158th lap of Sunday's UAW-GM Quality 500 at...
Jarrett's title hopes dashed at Charlotte
By Marty Smith
CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 8, 2000) If Dale Jarrett's championship hopes weren't dashed two weeks ago after a wreck at Dover, they are now.
On the 158th lap of Sunday's UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Jarrett was running steadily in the top-5 when Rusty Wallace, who was surging through the field as if on rails, tapped him in the left rear between turns 3 and 4.
The resulting wreck sent Jarrett's No. 88 Quality Care Ford spinning into oncoming traffic -- namely Jeff Gordon -- and subsequently eliminated three top-10 cars from contention.
Gordon, who was running just behind Jarrett, thought he had checked up in plenty of time to miss the wreck. He went high, assuming Jarrett and Wallace had gone down the track. He was wrong, and hit Jarrett square in the left door. Meanwhile, Robert Pressley, who was having arguably his best run of the year, was unable to check up in time to prevent a head-on slam into Wallace's rear.
Gordon has experienced nothing but success in his career at LMS. He won his first race here, is the defending UAW-GM Quality 500 winner and has four trips to Victory Lane here overall. After earning the top starting position in Bud Pole Qualifying Wednesday, he was looking for more of the same. Needless to say, he wasn't overjoyed following the incident.
"I was having a little bit of a tough time with it, but I think it would've come around by the end of the race," Gordon said. "We were a little loose at one end and a little tight at the other end. We were just trying to bide our time and be patient and keep working on it.
"But it looked like a couple guys got together and got loose. I had plenty of time to slow down but there was so much smoke I couldn't see. I slowed down hoping they'd go to the bottom. They didn't. We lost a lot of oil. We can get it back out there, but what's the use. I'll have me a ball here at Charlotte just riding around."
Gordon's frustration is warranted, but he's not in the championship hunt. Jarrett was for much of the season. After Sunday, he's not anymore.
"I'd say we're out of it for good now," Jarrett said. "Bobby's running great. You've got to be up there at the end to accumulate points and put yourself in a position to win. I can't describe the frustration because it's bad. You know, you work hard and you get a good racecar and then things just don't go your way."
The season certainly started Jarrett's way. He dominated every facet of Speedweeks 2000 at Daytona International Speedway. He won the first Gatorade 125-mile Qualifying race, thus earning the Bud Pole for the Great American Race. He then went on to lead the most laps and win that event.
He hasn't won since, despite having accumulated more top-5s than any other driver.
He's now 388 points behind leader Bobby Labonte, who also won Sunday's affair. Second-place Jeff Burton now sits 252 points behind Labonte, but he and third-place Dale Earnhardt are separated by just six points. He doesn't blame anyone for Sunday's accident. It's just racing.
"That's the way it is all the time," Jarrett explained. "Everybody keeps wanting to change the point system because they say we'll race harder to win. Nobody is gonna race harder to win. We race hard to win every week. That's exactly what Bobby is doing, what Dale is doing, Jeff Burton, Rusty, myself, everybody - we're racing to win the races."
Even if it means risking a 40th-place finish at Charlotte. -nascar.com-