Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, goes into this weekend's NASCAR Winston Cup race at Kansas Speedway in 11th place in the point standings. He, along with crew chief Todd Parrott, spoke about this year's championship battle and...
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, goes into this weekend's NASCAR Winston Cup race at Kansas Speedway in 11th place in the point standings. He, along with crew chief Todd Parrott, spoke about this year's championship battle and Sunday's event as part of the NASCAR Winston Cup teleconference.
Part 2 of 2
TALLADEGA MUST BRING SOME UNCERTAINTY TO HOSE IN THE POINTS RACE.
"Yeah. If I look back at 1999 and about the races, I think it's funny that when you get in that position how you look at all the different tracks and you see some things that were there that you never saw before. But Talladega was the one race track that was so uncertain because no matter how good you ran, you were always gonna be in a pack of cars. When you're in that position, so many things are out of your control. I know that as much as these guys want to say, 'Hey, we're just looking at Kansas City,' they've been looking at Talladega coming up for a couple of weeks now knowing that it's the one factor and one big race that could determine a lot of what's gonna happen here. They're thinking about that. Even though they want to have a good race this weekend, they've got Talladega on their mind. That was a long 500 miles. I remember whenever we were there in '99 trying to get through that race, but you just have to go there and do your business. There's nothing you can do about the circumstances and you just hope that it's kind of your day and you can stay out of trouble."
WHAT KIND OF RACE CAN E EXPECT AT KANSAS:
"I think we're looking at a race track like Chicago where you've got a year on it. You've had more races there with other forms of racing, so I think it's gonna have more than the one groove I believe we had there last year. I think that's how I got into a lot of trouble I got in, so I think it'll be a very competitive race once again. You're gonna see the championship contenders battling and it should be a very exciting race."
DO YOU THINK JOHNSON AND NEWMAN ARE ING SO WELL BECAUSE THEY DON'T KNOW DOANY BETTER:
"If you don't have any negative thoughts, then you've got half the battle done. These guys believe in themselves, that's first and foremost, you have to believe in what you're doing. They have a tremendous amount of talent and they've surrounded themselves with very good race teams. Whenever you get yourself in that type of position and you have good things happen, then you think there's no reason that things shouldn't happen good for them. As much as you'd like to think this is a totally physical sport, there's a lot of the mental side to it and these young guys have a good head on their shoulders. They're performing very well and will continue for a lot of years."
TODD PARROTT, Crew Chief --88-- UPS Taurus -- HOW DID YOU APPROACH EACH RACE DURING YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON:
"First of all, you had to get yourself in position mentally, people-wise and car-wise to be prepared for it. You kind of just take it a week at a time and try not to get too far ahead. If you try to get too far ahead, then the competition changes and you have to change your whole outlook or your whole gameplan on what you're gonna do. You just have to stay focussed and take it one week at a time and try to do your very best that week. Talladega is coming up next week and that's a tough race. It will play big in the points race as far as the final outcome. You just have to keep yourself out of trouble and with the new fuel cell rule, it's gonna throw another twist in there as far as strategy and the things that go on in that race. But as far as the championship, you just have to stay focussed and keep your people pumped up to take it one week at a time."
HOW DO YOU STAY FOCUSSED WHEN YOU HAVE PERSONAL ISSUES THAT MAY NOT BE AS POSITIVE AS YOU WOULD LIKE:
"You just have to go on about your business and do the things you've been taught to do and the things you've learned how to do, and just stay focussed on the racing. What happens outside of racing, you just try to do the best you can there also and try to be the best person you can be."
WHAT CHANGES WILL THE FUEL CELL RULE AT TALLADEGA BRING AND WHAT ABOUT THE NEW BODIES FOR 2003:
"The fuel cell deal is gonna add a new twist. It's gonna be exciting and different. There will be more pit stops and the pit crews will play a bigger part. Whether to get two tires or four tires. How long does it take to put in 13 gallons of gas, a lot of things are gonna play into that. As far as the body changes go, NASCAR has done a fantastic job. John Darby, Buster (Auton) and those guys have done a great job in getting the templates out to us -- maybe two months before we had the changes last year -- so we do have a little more time to look at things and to get things prepared. Yes, we may have to have extra people to get prepared for Daytona because last year we were able to roll our cars over from the 2001 season to 2002 with just a few minor changes. This year, we're gonna have to have all brand new cars, so that's gonna be a lot of work. You just have to keep your gameplan together and try to stay focussed and try to stay ahead."
WHAT ROLE DOES MOMENTUM PLAY AT THIS POINT:
"It plays a big role. This sport is driven by competition. That's what drives everyone in that garage area is the competition and doing well. Whenever you do well and you finish in the top five or top three or when you win a race, man, it means so much. It's so much easier to come in here on Monday morning after you've won a race or ran great like we did Sunday at Dover and just tell the guys what a great job they did. They get so pumped up. Then again, you come in here sometimes and you have to unload it off a flatbed or on to a flatbed and have to cut it into a million pieces. That makes it hard for the morale to get up, but that's just the way this sport is. It's competition driven. When you do well, it's easy to keep things pumped up and keep everybody motivated."
HOW DO YOU TURN THINGS AROUND IF IT'S NOT GOING WELL:
"You have to use reverse psychology on them and tell them that things are gonna get better. 'We have a great race team. If everybody keeps their heads in the game and does the things they know how to do, then we'll turn this thing around.' Those are the sort of things I tried to do during the middle part of this season -- just try to keep everybody pumped up and tell them that sooner or later we're gonna turn this program around. We're a championship caliber race team. We've won races, we know how to win races and it's gonna happen, it just takes time."
WHAT IS THE THREE-WEEK STRETCH LIKE WITH TALLADEGA AND MARTINSVILLE SO CLOSE TOGETHER:
"At Talladega, you don't know what's gonna happen. Anything can happen at any minute on any lap of a restrictor plate race and we've all seen that. You just try to put yourself in position that you won't get in any trouble and do the things to keep your car out front. Martinsville is a place that you have to have a good handling race car and pit strategy does play a big role because of the tire situation there. Goodyear has a great tire for Martinsville, so you can take a chance on staying out after 30 or 40 laps on your tires, if you want to, so you just have to really have your game on in those two races. As far as the championship goes, our focus right now is to get back into the top five and try to win races. We know if we win races, we can get back in the top five."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN THE GARAGE:
"The garage area is totally packed. There are a lot of people and a lot of sponsors. There are a lot of big companies involved in NASCAR right now. Unfortunately, the garage areas are small. Some of the places we go don't have very much room and it does make it tough on the competitors getting back and forth from the garage to the car. You don't want to go jumping out of the back of the truck during a 45-minute practice session with a spring or swaybar or shock and come running out to see 40 people standing back there. You don't want to knock 'em down, but you don't want them their either even though you know they have to be there. It's a tough situation. I'm sure NASCAR is looking at it and whatever they do, I'm sure it will be the right thing. Our sport is growing and we have a lot more sponsors involved now. We have a lot of good things happening in our sport and I'm really excited to be a part of it. Unfortunately, that's part of it. There's not a whole lot you can do about it, you just hope it will get better and they can do a little better job of policing it."
HOW DO YOU REACT TO THE GOOD TV RATINGS:
"I think it's incredible. It's a tribute to everybody at NASCAR -- every car owner, driver, team member that's in our sport and all the good things that they do. It's exciting. I'm not gonna tell you it's not because watching that race on Sunday with Mark Martin racing for a championship and Jimmie Johnson with nothing to lose. He's racing for a championship too, but was Mark Martin riding around all day and just playing cat-and-mouse with him? There at the end, here he comes. Was he gonna pass him and win the race. It's exciting. The competition is good. It's hard to win races right now. You've got to have your game on and you have to be 110 percent to win one of these things. It's a lot of fun and there's a lot of excitement, but, there again, you've got a lot of people involved."
YOUR OPINION ON THE FUEL CELL AT TALLADEGA:
"Really and truly, I don't think there's anybody in the garage area that can really give an honest opinion about what they think about it because none of us has experienced it yet. It's gonna be something different. Yeah, the pit crews are gonna play a bigger role and there is gonna be more excitement on pit road. There will be a little more danger with more cars coming in and pitting, but as far as what's gonna happen, nobody knows until that race is run next Sunday at Talladega when it's over with. You can plan strategy and you can do this or do that, but until the green flag drops, you really do not know what's gonna happen."
WHAT DO YOU TELL YOUR CREW
"Just to be ready."
Jarrett, Parrott press conference part I