Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Ford Fusion, held a press conference this morning at Texas Motor Speedway regarding a Toys for Tots program. He also spoke about other issues after the formal announcement. DALE JARRETT -- No. 88 UPS Ford...
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Ford Fusion, held a press conference this morning at Texas Motor Speedway regarding a Toys for Tots program. He also spoke about other issues after the formal announcement.
DALE JARRETT -- No. 88 UPS Ford Fusion
HOW DO YOU LIKE THESE PAINT SCHEME PROGRAMS? "It's very fun. These are the fun things that sponsors like UPS provide for us. And to be partnering with The UPS Store and the Marines once again who is going through their 59th year with Toys for Tots, its very fun for me and a fun project. It's going to be very entertaining to see what these kids come up with to design for our race car here in November."
WILL YOUR KIDS BE JEALOUS IF THIS CAR OUTPERFORMS THE ONE THEY DID LAST YEAR? "(Laughing) No, I think the kids will be more than happy for that to happen. They're looking for us to get back to the winners circle, so if that's what it took, they'd let someone else design it all the time."
HOW SPECIAL IS THIS FOR THE KIDS? "It's very special for the kids and hopefully kids will find it's something fun to do and we've given them basically a white car here to take and put their colors and they're spin on it, and I think that they're going to have a great time. I'm really looking forward to seeing these entries that they get. We might even find something that they design that we like better than what we have every week. So we might run more than one paint scheme throughout this but it's going to be a lot of fun."
DO YOU NOTICE KIDS ENJOYING THE CARS AND RACING ACROSS THE COUNTRY? "I think that's one thing that we've seen change over the years. You talk about all the change within NASCAR and our series. The one thing that I've seen change is the number of kids that come to autograph signings and the special things that you're doing to the requests that you get for autographs from kids in school wanting things for themselves and their classmates. It's a big change in that respect. You know, kids probably -- I think ages six to 12 or 14 -- that has increased tremendously and that's really what we need because we're growing NASCAR fans for life there."
HOW IS YOUR CAR HERE AT TEXAS? "I'm looking forward to the weekend. This is a car that we ran at Atlanta and we've gone back since and made some changes. As I explained a couple weeks ago, we're kind of making small steps to improve each week without shooting ourselves in the foot so to speak to try to keep us in the hunt until we get this program really where it needs to be. Elliott and I once again are making those steps with our crew chiefs to get better as a race team and get our cars more competitive each week. Elliott had a great race last week at Martinsville. We had a good race. We just had a lot of problems that we overcame and managed a reasonable finish out of it. So I'm looking forward to this weekend."
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE HERE AT TEXAS? "Everything comes into play. This is a handling race track and you have to get through the corners. You know over the years its become such a much better track to race on because we've got more than one groove in it, but it's a very fast race track and a lot of fun to drive but getting your car to handle and keeping the tires on it is the biggest key."
WILL NOT TESTING HERE GIVE SOME OF THE NEW GUYS PROBLEMS? "Well, that's where you rely on some experience. We'll take the first part of today's practice and work on our race setup before we get into qualifying mode for that very reason, so it gives us an opportunity to look at our data and talk overnight then be ready for Saturday's practice. I don't mind that part of it. Again that's why we have to take smaller steps right now in making changes and trying to catch up. So it may take you a little longer to get yourself in that position you'd like to be in, but it's the same for everybody."
DALE JARRETT CONTINUED -- HOW DOES A LACK OF TESTING IMPACT PREPARATION? "Yeah, I think that you just study notes and look back at what worked at the race track and then you have to incorporate what you're doing this day in time. Even things that we were doing last November here are pretty much outdated now. You've got a different set up. You've got different shocks and springs and so you have to put that in to what you know about the race track. It's definitely made it a little bit more of a guestimation type game than what it used to be when you had the opportunities to go test, so you have to work a little bit harder in getting yourself prepared."
SOME SAY NOTES DON'T WORK AS WELL BECAUSE OF CHANGES IN CARS AND TIRES. "I think that you have to have a baseline to go by but you have to be very open-minded in your thinking. I don't know that you can look back on the notes and say, 'Well, we did this when the car was pushing.' That doesn't work anymore because you're completely different. Everything is so aerodynamically sound now that you have to go around to that side of it. So you make your changes chassis-wise based on what its going to do aerodynamically to your race car, so, yeah, in that sense it doesn't but you still have to have those notes to go from to see what changes you can make and in what direction you need to go."
DOES THIS TRACK FAVOR ONE MANUFACTURER? "I don't think so. I think it's just that the track lends itself maybe to some of the driving styles and setups. Roush has been strong. We've been strong here. Obviously our engine combination works extremely well with the Fords and I think that's a big part of it, but I don't think anybody has an advantage. The cars are all too equal now."