Talladega: Ford - Jarrett interview, Part I

Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, is the last Ford driver to win a race here at Talladega when he won the Winston 500 in 1998. Jarrett spoke about a number of issues, including NASCAR's judgement calls last week in the Busch and ...

Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, is the last Ford driver to win a race here at Talladega when he won the Winston 500 in 1998. Jarrett spoke about a number of issues, including NASCAR's judgement calls last week in the Busch and Winston Cup Series races at Texas.

Part 1 of 2

DALE JARRETT - No. 88 UPS Taurus:

HOW IS YOUR CAR THIS WEEK?

"You bring cars here and it doesn't matter if they're new, it's what they see in the wind tunnel. If that's made it better, then that's good. Supposedly, it was a little better there so, hopefully, all of that translates into something good on the race track but that will remain to be seen when we get in traffic."

SOME GUYS MISSED PRACTICE TIME ON FRIDAY DUE TO INSPECTION.

"Yeah, I guess they're getting pretty tough. I don't know what it was exactly that they didn't like about our car, but as long as they're that tough on everybody, then that's fine. I don't really know what we were trying to do, to be quite honest, I'll leave that to those guys. But by the time I went out for the first time, practice had been going for an hour, so we basically got two runs before it was time to qualify."

INSPECTION TAKES A LONG TIME.

"Yeah, it does take a long time. With all the templates and measurements that they have now, you have to be right on and then if you're not right on, which you should be before you leave, but if you have to go through that process again, you have to wait until everybody has gone through. It's not like it used to be where you could just jump back in, you have to wait. It's a long process, but I think that's the message they're sending. 'This is gonna take us a while to do this and do it right, so you better come here with your cars right.'"

HAVE YOU HEARD ANYTHING MORE ABOUT WHAT NASCAR IS GOING TO DO WITH THE NO. 20 CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO THAT WAS IMPOUNDED LAST WEEK?

"No, I haven't heard a thing. As a matter of fact, I pick up the paper to read to see if there's something I don't know about. Other than what we were told at Texas about the measurement being off, that's as much as I know right now."

ARE PEOPLE WAITING TO SEE WHAT NASCAR DOES S FAR AS FURTHER PENALTY?

"I think everybody is certainly anticipating what the penalty may be. I don't know that it's keeping us from doing anything at work because we know we have to be right, but I think we're all a little bit anxious. We might be wondering exactly why it's taken this long.

"I mean, they've already found that it wasn't right, so why is it gonna take that long. They kind of set a precedent in the Truck Series and the Busch Series and they were pretty serious about that. If that's for a coil spring, what are you gonna do for a whole car? So it's pretty serious. I know nobody over there, by what I've read, wants to take the blame. I guess it just happened to the car and those things happen, so it'll be interesting to see."

RICHARD CHILDRESS SAID YOU COULD VISUALLY LOOK AT THE CAR AND SEE IT WAS OFF. DO YOU VISUALLY SCAN YOUR CARS?

"That's left up to the guys in the fab shop and the crew chief to make sure that's right. I've gotten better over the years at being able to see things. Before it became so difficult with all the templates that we have now, you could visually see what guys were doing and that's how everybody changed around and made changes to their cars and tried different things. Now with everything being as close as it is, it's hard to tell there's that much. But that car was something you could visually see, so that tells you it was off quite a bit."

THERE WERE QUITE A FEW JUDGEMENT CALLS LAST WEEK - VICKERS ON SATURDAY AND RACING BACK TO THE CAUTION ON SUNDAY. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT JUDGEMENT CALLS LIKE THAT?

"I think the one on Sunday, they went back and did the right thing. It was obviously a mistake on their part (NASCAR's) at the time because all that is is a gentleman's agreement. It still states that we race back to the flag. They ask us not to. They ask the leader to be the only one, but the guy in second has that right, if he's not wanting to let somebody have a lap back. I fully understand that. I know they made a mistake and they apologized for it. They say it won't happen again, so we have to leave that one alone and chalk that one up to experience. The one on Saturday,

"I had an incident about four years ago. It wasn't me, it happened to someone that was in front of me on a restart and they got black-flagged. They did not make a pass. They were up beside the car. I went to NASCAR to find out exactly what the rule was and I'm telling you here right now that NASCAR did not make a wrong call as you all have reported all week long. NASCAR did not make a wrong call on Saturday.

"I'm not against Brian Vickers. I think the young man did a fantastic job on Saturday getting his car in that position. When I saw him get in the accident, whenever that happened, I hated it for him, but NASCAR did not make a wrong call. The way they explained it to me four years ago, because I wanted to know what the rule was, it's a judgement call. Just like every other sport that we have there are judgement calls at times. A ball or a strike, that's a judgement call. Pass interference in football, that's a judgement call. A personal foul - block or charge - that's a judgement call and that's the same way that this is on a restart. You cannot make an attempt to pass to the left.

"It doesn't say a pass constitutes being all the way up beside or past him when you get to the start-finish line. If, in their opinion, you're making an attempt to pass, it doesn't matter if that guy spun the tires or just didn't get in the right gear. That's just your unfortunate time of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If a guy has a mechanical problem, then NASCAR looks at that and that's the way they explained it to me. The car that I was following that day, that got black-flagged, barely had a fender up to the guy's quarter-panel and they black-flagged him in, so it's just an attempt to pass.

"As everyone saw last week, that's what Brian Vickers did. I understand the argument that he was trying not to create a wreck behind him, but that's everybody else's job to not make that happen and to watch what's going on in front.

"So, NASCAR did not make a bad call. As much as I hate it for Brian Vickers, that was the proper call on that Saturday. We're gonna have these calls and that's part of the sport. We have to hope, the way it has been explained to me, that these calls equal out for you over your career. You can't look at them from year to year. If you're gonna be in this business for 20 years, then you've got to look at it over that time. When you're getting ready to retire you look back and say, 'Well, they were pretty much right,' or you say, 'Maybe I got the best side of that.'"

SO AS A DRIVER YOU HAVE TO MAKE A SPLIT-SECOND DECISION, BUT IS THAT SOMETHING THAT JUST COMES WITH EXPERIENCE?

"Yeah, experience is about all you can chalk it up as, but as much as anything I see a lot of guys try to take advantage of restart situations. That's a time where they really want to make a pass or do something big to separate themselves or to take a spot and that's really not the time or place to me. You've got all the cars bunched up and it's a recipe for disaster.

"NASCAR is trying to help the drivers because sometimes we're not smart enough to do that on our own. Before we had this rule, we were four-wide at places where the front straightaway was wide enough to get that wide or however many we could get, so NASCAR is doing us a favor by allowing us just to go on and race after this restart has taken place.

"I think that it's something you learn with experience and you don't look at it as though, 'That's gonna be the time I need to make that pass.' Now, if it's down to the last two or three laps of a race, then, yeah, you're gonna do whatever you can do to make a pass on that, but, to me, I think guys are gonna learn the hard way sometimes."

Part II

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Brian Vickers