Hickory, NC - 9/30/03 For Jason Jarrett, this past weekend at Talladega Superspeedway brought about a mixed bag of emotions; from the highs of participating in his first Winston Cup race, to the lows of a less than satisfactory finish in the ARCA...
Hickory, NC - 9/30/03 For Jason Jarrett, this past weekend at Talladega Superspeedway brought about a mixed bag of emotions; from the highs of participating in his first Winston Cup race, to the lows of a less than satisfactory finish in the ARCA RE/MAX Series event on Saturday.
Saturday's running of the ARCA RE/MAX Series Food World 300 saw Jarrett starting from the 14th position, but right from the start of the race, the #67 ML Motorsports Gladiator GarageWorks, Damon RV Pontiac had problems with the engine missing and not turning enough rpm's. Several pit stops were made to correct the problem and there was slight improvement in performance, but the car was still off the pace. Jarrett hung on to finish 15th for the day, and remains second in series points; 340 points ahead of third place driver Mark Gibson.
Sunday's running of the Winston Cup EA Sports 500 resulted in a 29th place finish for Jason Jarrett in the Robert Yates Racing #98 sponsored by CHI Overhead Garage Doors, Dale Jarrett Ford and Bennigan's Restaurants; a solid run for a first time out on a tough track.
"I was excited at first, you know, staying pretty close to the pack," said Jarrett. But when I blew the tire out and had damage to the right front, I was never able to gain the momentum to keep up with the pack."
Qualifying netted Jason Jarrett a 23rd starting position for his Winston Cup debut, but running over debris during final practice caused the Robert Yates race team to have to change engines, and Jason Jarrett had to drop to the rear of the field to start the race.
"It was a tough track to start on," remarked Jarrett. "It was the best situation to qualify, because I was in a good car, with good engines, good body, stuff like that. It's the hardest place to race because you can't get into any kind of rhythm other than just watching what other people are doing. You have to be in the draft; you have to mirror drive. To be good here you have to mirror drive as good as you drive looking forward. I never got into the pack, but the few times that I did, it was like somehow the cars behind me had so much more momentum than I did. I didn't understand how that could happen because I never had momentum on anybody enough to pass them like they did me.
"So, I don't know if the fender was messed up, or me not knowing how to time passing people or what it was. But I just definitely know for the next time, for the next ARCA race I run, I know I have a lot more to learn to be at those guys level. I don't mean that in a bad way - I came into the race thinking, not that it was going to be easier, but may not quite as difficult, with as much to learn."
"I thought I'd been racing ARCA at the higher speeds long enough, but the ARCA race is totally different. Over there you can't even crack the throttle or you lose the draft. And I knew from practice. Sometimes it's hard to talk yourself into.when you see smoke or a car spinning, it's hard to tell yourself to stay in it. I had a few times when I would see cars get together and wiggle, and I would like drag the brakes, lift a little bit, and that would get me behind. You can't lift at all; you have to be on the floor no matter what or you lose the draft and whatever momentum you had," said Jarrett.
The first caution resulted in a cut tire for Jarrett. The number 98 did not come in right away and the tire blew before Jason was able to get back around to the pit area.
"I kind of beat myself up for knowing that I had a flat tire and not coming in," said Jarrett. "I've been in that situation before and you can't go all the way back around this track, because the tire just blows out. You run 70 mph on pace laps, so you know even though they didn't give me the call to come in, I should have, because that's what my instinct should have been to do. "When I came across the start/finish line, the tire blew and it knocked the fender off."
Over the wall pit crew duties were handled by the Jason Jarrett's ARCA RE/MAX Series #67 ML Motorsports crew and as usual they went above and beyond.
"The ML guys (and Vanessa) did an exceptional job on pit road," said Jarrett. Especially not knowing what the decisions were going to be until almost the last minute."
"I felt like I got in and out of the pits good, except when I ran into the back of Fittipaldi. Other than that time, I got in and out without messing anybody up. I felt like they had good pits stops because we were used to each other. They knew how I come in the pits, and Scott was able to say we're only going to do 'rights' or get a little closer to the wall. We knew how to talk about things like that."
"As far as their work, you couldn't ask for any people to be more excited about it. I don't think they could have brought a group in that could have done this any better, and still had the excitement they had - even though we had a little bit of an off day," said Jarrett.
"We ran 300 on Saturday, but it just has a different feel to it because there are so many people on the lead lap and you do green flag pit stops. We don't get to experience green flag stops very often in ARCA, and I'm glad I to go make probably two or three of them. I knew the first time I didn't drive in as far as I needed too, the second time I got a little better, and the third time, evidently got a little too good at it because we got a penalty for speeding," joked Jarrett.
The #98 was a third car brought to Talladega by Robert Yates Racing as part of their research and development program. Earlier this month Jason had spent two days testing Yates cars, and the decision was made to attempt to qualify the third car less just two weeks prior to the event.
"They shouldn't beat themselves up for doing it so fast, because now they know that whatever Elliott (Sadler) had was better than the other teams," explained Jarrett. "They know now that whatever the 88 had was a little bit better. They (RYR) knew from the wind tunnel what order the cars were in, but we gave them a third choice to work on. They had three choices, so now maybe they can work off what they had on the 38.
"They'll probably be able to do the same thing for their down force bodies," added Jarrett. "Maybe we'll get a chance to run a down force track for them. If it's Daytona, maybe we'll change the car that I just ran a little bit, and take it back to see how it performs there."
The race ended with a 29th place finish for Jarrett, but the most important factor taken from the weekend's events was that fact that it was a real learning experience for a third generation racing family member with a career goal to carry on that legacy.
"The biggest thing I learned on Sunday, what that I have a lot more to learn," said Jarrett. "Just to be truthful to myself and to the people who were sponsoring me as well as the owners - the Cup drivers.they are definitely the best there are! I'm not satisfied with it, because I feel like we could have done a lot better, but it was a good experience and I really think they'll (RYR) have enough confidence to do it again, and I'm looking forward to that."
Jason Jarrett for his Winston Cup debut drove the #98 Robert Yates Racing Ford Taurus with primary sponsorship provided by CHI Overhead Doors, Dale Jarrett Ford and Bennigan's Restaurants. Jason is also a member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family.