DJ Looks to Build on Past Pocono Success
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (June 7, 2005) ----- Pocono Raceway has been a historically strong track for Dale Jarrett and the #88 UPS Racing Team. The last few NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events at the 2.5-mile triangular shaped track have not been on par with the team's typical performance with a finish of 26th in this event a year ago, and a 24th-place finish in the 2004 July race. Both times, mechanical problems plagued Jarrett. He was running in the top five in the Pocono 500 one year ago when his engine let go with just five laps remaining. Then one month later, transmission failure sent the team behind the wall for several laps for repairs. Jarrett was able to lead a couple laps in both races before problems plagued the team, and this weekend's race is one in which he looks forward.
While the asymmetrically shaped Pocono will still give teams fits in 2005, it will be a brand new type of racing though for many of the NEXTEL Cup Series competitors as it marks the first time in several years that drivers will not be able to shift due to the gear rule in place for 2005. Many of the drivers that make up the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series today weren't around before shifting came into play at Pocono. Preparing for the new gear rule for Pocono this weekend has forced many teams to re-evaluate their Pocono race packages.
"It's definitely going to be a situation where we have to evaluate our down force, engine and handling packages," said Bill Wilburn, interim crew chief for the UPS Team. "I know our engine department has been working hard on making sure we have the power where we need and our fab shop has been working hard to make sure we're low on drag. We need as much down force as possible and we're working to optimize the handling and making sure we have a package that gets through the corners well."
Jarrett Discusses Racing at Pocono Raceway
How different is it going to be this weekend without the shifting?
"I don't know if I can even remember the last time we raced at Pocono without shifting. It's been a long time. It is certainly going to be different this weekend and it puts a lot of emphasis on durability. This track is tough on equipment and it's probably going to be even more so with the gear rule this weekend."
Do you enjoy Pocono because of the success you've had there?
"That certainly adds to the attraction. If you had asked me whether I enjoy Pocono back before 1995 I might have a different answer for you but this has been a good track for me since I came to Robert Yates Racing to drive the #28 car in '95. I think our engine package plays a big role for us and will this weekend. I think that's one of the things that's always been good for us, is the way our engines perform well there and we do have that power and it makes the power in the right places. I know Doug Yates and his group have worked hard in preparation for this weekend, especially with that gear rule in place. Pocono is a challenging track and I enjoy it."
Do you consider this one of the more physically demanding tracks?
"It can be depending on what the weather does. Five hundred miles here is a lot of racing. I think this race usually takes about four hours, so that is a long race. This is a difficult race track and a difficult race, because you're working hard as a driver in the car for a long time."
Chassid 46 is the car Team UPS will race this weekend. This car was built a few months ago but has yet to race in 2005. The geometrical points on the chassis have been adjusted and a new body has been placed on the car.
Notes of Interest
* Jarrett has three career wins at the 2.5-mile with his win at the track in June 2002 being his most recent.
* Jarrett posted a string of six consecutive top-three finishes in the June race at Pocono from 1997 to 2002. >From the July race in 1996 to the July race in 2002, Jarrett only had one finish outside the top five and that was a 41st place finish in the Pennsylvania 500 in July 2001 after mechanical problems plagued the team. That stretch of races featured 10 consecutive top-five finishes for Jarrett and the #88 UPS Team.