Dale Jarrett , driver No. 44 UPS Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing "This seemed a lot easier a couple months ago when I started thinking about this than it is to stand here today. And, I just got off the internet to make sure I had this right...
Dale Jarrett , driver No. 44 UPS Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
"This seemed a lot easier a couple months ago when I started thinking about this than it is to stand here today. And, I just got off the internet to make sure I had this right because it seemed like everybody else knew what I was doing. So, I wanted to make sure I was going to tell you the same things that were out there. I'm just here today to officially announce a reduced schedule for Dale Jarrett's driving career. Last year, I signed up to do two years with Michael Waltrip Racing and with UPS and in the last three months there has been a lot of thought and consideration that has gone into what's best for my sponsor -- UPS, who I have been with for seven years now. Trying to determine what was best for myself and my family and what was best for Michael Waltrip Racing. I came to the conclusion and went to UPS with the idea that I would like to back out of all 36 races and gave them options of what I felt would be best for them. I wanted to give them options to determine what was best for them to do in moving into the future. In no way, shape or form -- and I can't stress this enough -- was I asked or forced to reduce my schedule by either UPS or Michael Waltrip Racing. This was a decision that I made, I went to my wife Kelly about it and that was how the decision came about."
"Next year my plan is to run the Bud Shootout (Daytona), then run the first five regular season races. Then the plan is to come back here (Lowe's Motor Speedway) to run the All-Star race as my last event as a driver in the Nextel Cup Series. Why the All- Star race? There were a lot of considerations there too -- knowing that it couldn't end with the Daytona 500 because of what we need to accomplish for Michael Waltrip Racing and UPS, we needed to run those first five. The next consideration was to possibly run my last race at Indianapolis and another consideration was to make the Coca-Cola 600 here in Charlotte my last race, but the more I looked at those other considerations and opportunities, I realized that was somewhat selfish on my part because what that would do to allow me to be in that race would only knock someone else out of that race who is trying to run all the races, and I know what that is like this year. I didn't want to put someone else in that position so the All -Star race seemed like a good fit. That is the plan and it has been a difficult decision, but I knew it was coming. I just felt like with things that have transpired this year -- I am ready to do this."
"When I made the deal to come to Michael Waltrip Racing, it was to help Michael and to help Buffy (Waltrip) develop their program and to help Toyota develop their program. I had to think about what was best for that and at this point in time I feel like I am doing the thing that is not only best for me, but best for Michael Waltrip Racing. As we move forward, we have a lot of young guys that we are going to talk about. They're the future of Michael Waltrip Racing and I'm not -- so it was time for me to make this decision -- I'm good with it and I'm looking forward to it."
"As I said before, today it is a lot more difficult to talk about it than it was when I laid awake at night thinking about what I was going to say here today. To steal a phrase that many of you have heard, I do feel like the luckiest person on the face of this earth. I get to do what I enjoy doing in driving a race car and I have gotten to make a lot of good friends along the way. I've been fortunate to do it without serious injury and I am able to walk away from it on my own terms and that's a good thing. I can't say enough about the France family and everyone at NASCAR over the years for the opportunity they have provided me. This has been, in my mind and in my heart, a privilege and an honor to drive a race car in this series and to drive for the people I have driven for. I have raced against some of the best in the business that will always go down as the best -- one of them is Darrell Waltrip, who is here today, and of course Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt -- I was just very fortunate to come into this sport at a time when it was really on an upswing and it was great to have those people helping me along the way too. To finish my career with the best sponsor in the business, I don't know how it could be much better. I'm just very fortunate and very honored that I've had this opportunity for so many years. The last 21 years have been built around being at a race track for more than 30 weekends a year doing exactly what I enjoy doing. My family has paid the price and allowed me to do that and hopefully I can give some of that back now. I'm still going to stay busy and I'm still going to be involved with the race team -- I'm going to be around for quite a while because I do enjoy this sport, I like the people in the sport and I like what goes on with this sport. But this is the plan right now. I hope you understand that this is a decision that I made and I am very fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of good people. There are a lot of exciting announcements coming from Michael Waltrip Racing and a lot of exciting things coming with Toyota next year."
How much did the struggles this year impact your decision?
"It showed me that they are going to run these races, whether I'm there or not. So, I figured that out. Also, I don't know if it's the struggles we've had, but the Thursday nights or Friday nights (qualifying) are not a lot of fun. The level of stress -- I can't even begin to tell you what that's like. That does take its toll on you. I just don't think that my job here at Michael Waltrip Racing and with Toyota -- was to help move them along quicker -- and I felt like after I thought about it that. it could be done in different ways and I don't have to be in the race car for that to happen. The best thing I felt was that I'm a huge fan of David (Reutimann) and his abilities and I think that was the best thing to move us forward."
What will be your new role with Michael Waltrip Racing?
"My role, I hope, is to maybe help tutor the young drivers at Michael Waltrip Racing. These young guys know how to drive a race car. But, there are some areas where I can help. There are certain race tracks where there are things you can help them with, as far as the way the track may change and other things to look at because they haven't been there as many times. I'll help with that -- whether it's going testing or being at the track on a lot of the weekends. And I will still have a lot to do with UPS with their hospitality."
Michael Waltrip , Team Owner, Racing and driver, No. 55 NAPA Camry
"I want to spend a couple seconds talking about what it's meant to have Dale Jarrett as a race driver for my team. When we worked out the deal for Dale and UPS to come over, I felt like it brought us instant credibility. What a wonderful sponsor and what a wonderful person and champion Dale is. I always felt like our careers had taken very different routes to get where they are today. I raced for a long, long time in the spotlight with very little success, then I won some races and it really made me appreciate how long I worked for it and raced hard to get it. I think that also describes Dale because he was a young man racing Busch races where he didn't win, but kept right there at it and was very competitive. He did start winning and then started racing Cup races where he got his first win at Michigan (International Speedway) side-by-side with Davey Allison -- I never will forget that. That day was a whole lot like the day that Dale Earnhardt won the Daytona 500 -- everybody in the whole garage area was happy for Dale (Jarrett) and the Wood Brothers to get that win on that day. When your competitors are happy about your success, I think that says s omething about the way you live your life and how that affects others."
"With all things there's change and I read the other day that it doesn't matter what lies ahead -- what matters is what lies within. I think UPS and Michael Waltrip Racing have gotten to know what lies within Dale Jarrett, and that is a big heart and a man that is grateful for the opportunities he has had over the years. I just want to say thank you for him for putting us on the map and I want to apologize to both him and David (Reutimann) for not having the team that they needed at the beginning of this year. But I think everyday that goes by you see our cars getting better and I hope the first person that wins a race in a Toyota is Dale Jarrett. We have about 10 more chances for him to do that. Nothing would make me happier than to reward a man that was willing to take a chance and start a new chapter for this year."
"David Reutimann has become someone that is near and dear to my family -- my brother, Darrell discovered him and put him in a truck. The feeling that I got last night when he rolled off to qualify was a lot different than the feeling I had back in May when I didn't know if he would make it back or not. When I saw him go by last night, I was comfortable and I knew he would be fine. In closing, we all have challenges when people say we are good people, but we are not losing anything in this transition because it is like the same personality stepping out as the one stepping in. I am blessed to have the opportunity to own these cars and through that opportunity I have been able to surround myself with a lot of wonderful people."
What is the future of the 00 car? How will the transition take place for moving David (Reutimann) into the No. 44 car?
"We haven't really talked about the details of that, but the way I envision it happening is that he will start out the season in the No. 00 Aaron's Camry in the Cup series and run that car for five races. Then that car will simply change colors. His team and David will stay in the same car with the same equipment, they will just take off the Aaron's decals and apply the UPS decals. That is the way I envision it happening and we will have three Cup teams next season. Here today we have Josh Wise, who has a driver development contract with Michael Waltrip Racing and has driven some ARCA races and truck races this season. Also, Michael McDowell, who is racing for the ARCA points championship and he is going to fall under our umbrella as well. He will not only be testing Busch cars and trucks, but also Cup cars. Our goal will be to have one or both of them ready to drive the Busch car -- we might mix it up considering next season will be a transitional car. It could have multiple drivers or if either of those two want to run more than the other -- we just don't know how all of that will work just yet. We will have three teams on the Cup level next season and at least one car in the Nationwide series next year." -
David Reutimann , driver No. 00 Domino's Pizza / Burger King Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
"I'd like to point out that the well-spoken part stops here and the stuttering is about to commence. Michael (Waltrip) talked about sometimes wondering if I was going to make it back around -- and there have been a lot of times when I was really concerned about making it back around myself. Throughout my career, I've had an opportunity to do a lot of great things. The night I got a phone call at home from Darrell Waltrip to drive for him is something that definitely stands out in my mind. Winning any race with my Dad is right there, too."
"Dale has helped me get this opportunity. He has -- for whatever reason -- seemed to like me alright. I'm not really sure why that is. He's put his blessing on this. I think he's the major reason that I have this opportunity, although I'm disappointed he won't be a teammate of mine. When I do finally get to wear the UPS brown, it won't be the first time that I've worn that color. I've raced my entire life and I've never had another job besides racing -- which means I've never had a real job. During the off- season, when there was no racing, there would be no food. So, our local UPS guy said Why don't you help us during the off- season,' which was the peak season. I was the jumper' -- which is the guy who helps the driver. I never drove the big brown truck, but I did wear the brown and got to sit in the seat next to the driver -- and took orders from him. I think I'm looking forward to the UPS uniform I'm going to be wearing in the future, rather than the one I wore in the past. I want to thank UPS for giving me the opportunity. I think they're one of the best sponsors in the garage and I'm fortunate to have them as a sponsor. I'm looking forward to next year. I'm blessed and grateful for the opportunities I've had."
Jim Aust , Vice President, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
"Obviously, this is exciting news for Michael Waltrip Racing and for the future of the team. Michael's team, along with Bill Davis Racing and Team Red Bull, have been the trailblazers for the Toyota NASCAR Nextel Cup program and have laid a good foundation for the continued development of our program. Michael, Dale and David have all been important contributors to our on-track program and have been great ambassadors for Toyota away from the track."