DJ Looks for First All-Star Win; Wilburn to Serve as Interim Crew CHARLOTTE, N.C., (May 17, 2005) ----- Dale Jarrett make his 14th consecutive appearance in the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway this weekend. Jarrett has...
DJ Looks for First All-Star Win; Wilburn to Serve as Interim Crew
CHARLOTTE, N.C., (May 17, 2005) ----- Dale Jarrett make his 14th consecutive appearance in the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway this weekend. Jarrett has finished first in a couple of the various segments that make up the All-Star event, but he has yet to score the big prize of winning the annual battle of the best that has taken place for 20 years. Jarrett has come close by finishing second on two occasions but would like to change that this weekend.
"Nobody remembers who finished second in that race except us (drivers)," Jarrett quipped about his pair of runner-up finishes in the All-Star race. "This is a Saturday night shootout and it's very exciting. It's a race where winning is all that matters and I think that's what makes it so thrilling. It's definitely the type of race that a driver would like to have on his resume of winning."
The team announced earlier this week that Mike Ford has elected to step down from the role of crew chief for the #88 UPS Team. Until a permanent replacement can be found for the role of crew chief, the duties of crew chief will be filled on an interim basis. Filling that role this weekend for Team UPS is veteran crew chief Bill Wilburn who served as crew chief for Rusty Wallace during the 2003 NASCAR season.
"Obviously, we want to take our time in finding a permanent replacement for the role of crew chief," said Eddie D'Hondt, general manager for Robert Yates Racing. "Billy Wilburn has been nice enough to come on board in an interim role to serve as crew chief, working with the #88 team and on race strategy. In the meantime, we'll monitor his chemistry with our team and keep our options open for a permanent replacement."
Jarrett Discusses Racing in the All-Star Race
There aren't any points on the line for this race, so what initiates so much emotion?
"This is a race that is all about winning. You aren't worrying about points. You're only worried about being the first to the checkered flag. When there's a million dollars on the line a lot of things can happen so that tends to add to the excitement and emotion that goes into this event. This is always a great race and it is a race for winner so you can't get a more competitive event than that."
What is the key for being around at the end for the final 20-lap spring?
"Obviously in order to have a chance at the win you need to be around for that last segment. It seems like with the number of crashes we've had the last couple of years that if you could just survive the first two segments then you were going to have a shot at the win by simply still being in the race. With the way this format is you do have some opportunity to get your car in position for that final 20-lap segment. You need a car that handles good enough to get to that transfer spot in the first two segments so that you're around at the end but there's opportunity to adjust and get your car so that when the 20-lap dash starts you're ready to go."
Do you look at this as an opportunity to get ready for the 600?
"We do use it that way but our ultimate goal is to win. The 600 is unique in that it starts in the late afternoon and we end up racing at night. With the way the practice schedule is for that race, this event is a great opportunity to see where your car is and how it is going to react in what is going to be the same condition one week later. We're in race trim for the All-Star race and we're in a pack of several cars as opposed to the three or four you may race against in practice. But, we don't just look at the All-Star race as a throw-away race. It's something that I've never been fortunate enough to win. We've come close but we just haven't got there yet and it's something I'd like to be able to win because it is all about bragging rights."
Notes of Interest
* While Jarrett has yet to take home the big paycheck, he has been a runner-up in the All-Star event on two different occasions, finishing second to winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr., in 2000 and winner Jeff Gordon in 2001.
* Conditions for a different winner of the All-Star race may be just right as the last seven All-Star events have each featured a different winner. Of the drivers competing in Saturday night's All-Star race, only Jeff Gordon and Terry Labonte have won the race more than once.
Chassis 38 is the car Jarrett will race during this weekend's All-Star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. This is the same car Jarrett raced at Darlington a few weeks ago where he posted a 15th-place finish. This car's best finish is a fourth-place finish at Dover in September 2004.