The worst kept secret in the NASCAR Nextel Cup garage has finally been confirmed. Michael Waltrip Racing announced this morning that Dale Jarrett will drive the team's second Toyota entry beginning in 2007. Jarrett is ending his long...
The worst kept secret in the NASCAR Nextel Cup garage has finally been confirmed. Michael Waltrip Racing announced this morning that Dale Jarrett will drive the team's second Toyota entry beginning in 2007.
Jarrett is ending his long relationship with Robert Yates Racing and Ford to join the fledgling team. Sponsorship on Jarrett's new ride was not announced but it expected that current sponsor UPS will stay on the No. 88 Ford at Yates and Burger King will enter the Nextel Cup series as a primary sponsor on Jarrett's Toyota.
"My tenure at Robert Yates Racing has been extremely important to me, my family and my career," said Jarrett. "We accomplished a lot together during the past 12 years and I am thankful to Robert and everyone at RYR and Ford Motor Company for the opportunities afforded me and the success we have all shared.
"This was a very difficult decision. I feel this is a great opportunity for me to take on a new challenge and what they are building at Michael Waltrip Racing fits my plans for the future.
"My decision to join Michael Waltrip Racing is based solely on a competitor's perspective. What Michael has pulled together is impressive and I want to be a part of it. The Daytona 500 might seem far away, but for a race team it is right around the corner. Michael's team is building cars now, their core management team is in place, the competition department is established and sponsors are locked up. From that perspective, it doesn't feel like I am going to a brand new team."
Jarrett clarified that his commitment for the rest of this season is focused on the No. 88 Ford at Yates, and that he fully expects to honor that commitment and work with the team on winning races and trying to get into the Chase for the Championship before his permanent status ends at RYR after the race at Homestead.
Waltrip, who left Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated last year to drive for Bill Davis Racing, is the first of three Toyota team owners (joining Davis and Team Red Bull) to begin to announce their driver line-up for the 2007 Toyota charge.
"When we began building Michael Waltrip Racing, I knew the key to success was brining in quality people," said Waltrip. "Ty Norris has been instrumental on the business side, just as Larry Carter and Bobby Kennedy have been on the competition side. By hiring Dale, we have yet another example of the importance we are placing on securing first-rate individuals for our program.
Jarrett and Waltrip should forge a powerful combo. Waltrip made his Cup debut in 1985, has four career wins and is a two-time winner of the Daytona 500. Jarrett began his Cup career in 1984, he is the 1999 series champ, has 16 career wins and three victories in the Daytona 500.