UPS Team Ready for First Road Race of '04 CHARLOTTE, N.C., (June 21, 2004) ---- Dale Jarrett and the No. 88 UPS Racing Team travel to the west coast for the first road course event of the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season. Jarrett and...
UPS Team Ready for First Road Race of '04
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (June 21, 2004) ---- Dale Jarrett and the No. 88 UPS Racing Team travel to the west coast for the first road course event of the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season. Jarrett and company are coming off their best finish of the 2004 season with a third-place effort at Michigan on Sunday. The team put on a strong run at Pocono two weeks ago when they were running fourth before losing a motor with only five laps to go. Jarrett hopes the past two weeks will translate into more strong runs in the coming weeks of NASCAR competition, making the UPS team a contender for wins on a weekly basis.
"The last two weeks have been really good," Jarrett said. "We started off the season having some decent runs, but that's what they were -- decent. The last two weeks have been a lot more competitive and I think it gives us a lot of hope for the rest of this season to be competitive and that's what we need to be. It's not a matter of thinking about getting in the top 10 or anything like that as far as the points are concerned because if you run well, that all takes care of itself. It's a matter of being a team that is re-building and working our way back."
The series travels to Infineon Raceway for this weekend's Dodge/Save Mart 350. Crew Chief Mike Ford explains that getting ready for a road course race requires a total team effort from the driver to the crew to the equipment.
"Road racing is completely different from anything we do at other tracks," Ford explained. "It starts with the way the body is put on the chassis. We take different equipment to compensate at road courses. Drivers shift gears. They're turning left and right, braking hard and accelerating hard. A lot of the corners are extremely tight and the car has to rotate harder than any oval track. We try to get a road course test in each year after we have gotten our road course cars together. We race those tracks only twice a year so you like to get those cars on the race track, shake them down and get the cob webs out of the crew and get them thinking left and right along with the driver. Virginia International Raceway is a good road course test facility for us. It's fairly close and it is similar. You'll never find a race track that is identical to another but they it does have similar tendencies as Sears Point and Watkins Glen."
Dale Jarrett Discusses Infineon Raceway
The team participated in a one-day test at VIR to get ready for this weekend's race, how did that go?
"It went well. We are taking a brand new car this weekend so we wanted to get some laps on that car. More than anything, that test was great for me to help get me in the road racing state of mind. Road racing is something I enjoy but something I don't consider myself to be very good at. It's been a while since we've been at a road course so that test at VIR was good for me so I could get some practice shifting, braking and things like that. Overall it was a good test for us."
There has been an ongoing debate as to whether road courses should be on the schedule since you only do that kind of racing twice a year. What are your thoughts on that subject?
"I am someone who has always had a love/hate relationship with the road courses. I enjoy the road course races because the challenge they present, but I don't feel like I'm a good road course racer. The road course races have always been challenging to me and I really work at trying to improve my skills as a driver where those races are concerned. I think they do add to the sport in that they require drivers to be better rounded as competitors. Just like the rest of the tracks we visit they play a key role in the season as a whole and in the championship picture. I don't know that we need to take the road courses off the schedule for that reason. I've always thought that if we're going to have road course races then we probably need more than just the one race at Sears Point and the one race at Watkins Glen. I know our team, for example, has one car specifically built for Sears Point and one car built for Watkins Glen because although they are both road courses, they are pretty different from each other. We race those cars one time each season and they sit at the shop the rest of the time. That's the only thing I see with the road course races."
Notes of Interest
* In preparation for this weekend's road race, the UPS Team spent Tuesday, June 15th shaking down their road-racing car at Virginia International Raceway.
* Dale and Kelley Jarrett celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary on Tuesday, June 22nd.