Dale Jarrett Comfortable at Daytona

Daytona a comfortable place for Jarrett By Shawn A. Akers DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 14, 1998) Dale Jarrett doesn't have to wonder if he can win at Daytona International Speedway or not. He's won there in NASCAR Winston Cup Series points...

Daytona a comfortable place for Jarrett By Shawn A. Akers

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 14, 1998) Dale Jarrett doesn't have to wonder if he can win at Daytona International Speedway or not.

He's won there in NASCAR Winston Cup Series points events twice before, and it certainly doesn't hurt that he's coming off a spectacular victory in last Sunday's Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, the first of back-to-back restrictor-plate races.

That makes for pretty good odds for Jarrett and the No. 88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Taurus team on Saturday in the historic Pepsi 400, the first series race ever to be held under the lights at Daytona. The race was postponed in July due to the wildfires in Florida.

"I think that you realize coming here (Talladega) and Daytona, that you can win the race," said Jarrett, winner of the 1993 and '96 Daytona 500s. "You've got a good opportunity. But there are so many people that can win at Daytona.

"It probably brings more of a group of cars to Talladega and Daytona that are capable of winning than at other places. Really, our chances are probably better at most other tracks, but we certainly count these two places as places that we can win."

Currently third in the standings with three victories this season, Jarrett has enjoyed a lot of success over the years at Daytona. Besides his two Daytona 500 wins, he has two other top-five finishes at Daytona (including fifth in last year's Pepsi 400), a 125-mile qualifier win in 1997, and a 1996 Busch Clash title.

February's Daytona 500 was an exception to the rule, when Jarrett finished a disappointing 34th to begin the season.

Since then, however, Jarrett has been pleased with the performance of his team and its cars in restrictor-plate races. The crowning moment came when he won last Sunday's event at Talladega, holding off Jeff Gordon in the final laps.

"We've made a lot of progress (with the restrictor-plate program)," Jarrett said. "Certainly, we were kind of behind at the beginning. We didn't have a lot of time to get everything ready. With each race, we've learned a little bit more and Todd (Parrott, his crew chief) has made a number of trips to the wind tunnel. That's probably helped us more than anything because we know what we're looking for there.

"The wind tunnel doesn't lie to us. And it backs it up, on the race track, what we see. It's a valuable tool for us. We knew we could make this Taurus a little better car at these race tracks, and Doug Yates and everybody in the engine shop have worked endless hours, too. We have a tremendous amount more horsepower than we came here with in the first race. Those are the keys. That's what you have to have, a good car and a good engine."

Some drivers have expressed concerns about running under the lights at Daytona on Saturday night. Jarrett, however, is comfortable with the thought of driving 400 miles around the 2.5-mile tri-oval for the first time at night. Jarrett has three career victories in races held at night, including one each at Charlotte, Bristol and Richmond.

"Everywhere else that we go and race under the lights, I actually see better, I think," Jarrett said. "If this is the same way, that'll be nice. The only thing is if we get any type of reflection at all while running in as big a pack as we run in at Daytona. That could give you a false sense of somebody being there or not. And you really go by feel and your peripheral vision at these places. That's the only thing. It should be a lot of fun. It'll be a lot cooler. It should be great for everybody."

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett