Dale Jarrett Texas winner's interview

DALE JARRETT: "We had a good car all day from the beginning. I don't know if the track changed, but we got a little bit tight toward the middle part of the race and we just had to adjust from there. Todd made a good adjustment on the last...

DALE JARRETT:


"We had a good car all day from the beginning. I don't know if the track changed, but we got a little bit tight toward the middle part of the race and we just had to adjust from there. Todd made a good adjustment on the last stop we made and, once again, our pit crew got us out in front of the guys that changed four tires and that was really the key -- getting out in front of Park and Junior and being able to get passed those guys at the end that either took on no tires or two tires. We had a fast car, an incredible engine. Our engine department is just on top of its game right now. This car has been great. Todd is building great cars and making my job a lot of fun."


ANY DOUBTS ON TWO OR FOUR TIRES?

TODD PARROT: "No, not after we ran as many green-flag laps as we had. I knew there would be a couple of cars in the back that would probably get two tires, but I watched that Busch race yesterday and saw what happened with Joe Nemechek at the end of the race. He really made up a lot of ground with four new tires and there was never a question as to whether to take two or four. If we were gonna win the race, we had to get four tires and take a chance. The pit crew did a great job and got us out front of Steve Park and Dale, Jr. He was able to work the traffic with some pretty incredible driving I must say. I about feel off the pit box watching him out there, but it was really a good day for us."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE IN A GROOVE NOW?

"Things are going well right now. I said at the beginning of the year that they way we came in prepared for the year reminded me a lot of '99 when we were able to win the championship. Todd really got things in order at the shop. Doug Yates and the engine department is just doing an incredible job, so the combination is really working well and it's showing up on the race track. We've qualified well and we're able to lead some laps and that's when you know that things are going well. Whenever you do that, you're gonna give yourself a chance to win some races."

WERE YOU HAPPY WITH THE LAST STOP?

"Actually, to be quite honest, three laps in I wasn't very happy. Those guys that didn't change tires or just got two, they had the air-pressures pretty much built up in their tires. Mine were all down and it just seemed like the right-front was down quite a bit. It may have been a little softer tire, I don't know, but I really wanted to push. Of course, you're driving hard and probably harder than I had all day at that point in time, so I was probably creating some of the problem. But about five or six laps into the run that right-front built up and I'd say I had to go around a lapped car on the outside and I really got the car turned great and got a really straight shot off the corner and it was just unbelievable. It showed you right then where the car wanted to run.

"It didn't want to run on the bottom like it had the other part of the day, so once we got that second groove in, that's where the car wanted to go. It was just a rocket and it's gonna look that way even more when you're racing guys that only have two tires or four tires. They couldn't get in the gas. They're cars were pushing and with four tires, that was absolutely the right call."

SOME OF THE OTHER GUYS WERE TEASING YOU ABOUT HOW WELL YOU WERE RUNNING WITH A CAR THAT YOU'VE SAID IS AT A DISADVANTAGE. WHERE DO YOU STAND ON THAT NOW?

"What it's done is it's made us work in other areas. We realize these are the rules we have to work with. We know the windtunnel numbers and we could talk all day about that and discuss it all the time, but the thing is, right now these are the rules that we have and we've had to work hard in some other areas to make our cars perform like they do right now. It's a credit to Todd Parrott to get all the downforce that we can out of what we have to work with and we're working in other areas. We're working with spring and shock combinations, swaybars. We're doing some really good things. Our engineers are helping us a lot to understand what we're seeing and what's happening with the data that we get so, right now I can't say that we're satisfied with the rules but that's what we have to race with. We're not gonna discuss them. If something changes somewhere down the road, that would be fine, if it doesn't, we're just gonna continue to work hard in the areas that we have."

DID THIS SEASON WITH OLD TIRES WEARING SO WELL MAKE YOU THINK TWICE ABOUT TAKING FOUR?

PARROTT: "Yeah. Three laps into that run when he said that set of tires was plowing I was like, 'Man, this set of tires just isn't gonna hook up like the others had all day long.' But like he said, he had to search and work to find a groove that suited the car and that set of tires. When that happened, the thing took off. It was just one of those things. When you've got that many green-flag laps on your tires, you can take a chance. It would have been a big gamble to put on two tires. There was no question in my mind we were gonna get four tires. If we would have finished third, fourth, fifth -- so be it. We would have come in and at least made the best effort that we possibly could by putting four tires on and that's what won the race."

ON TIRES.

JARRETT: "I think it's great that Goodyear has got such a good tire that it's making the racing at the end of these races this interesting as to what you should do. It's really thrown a lot into it -- taking a gamble. You're not compromising any safety issues by taking a gamble because the tire is so good that you believe you can really stay out there. It does work at some place and some others it may not, but they've done a good job in getting this tire to really be competitive and run for a long time."

DOES IT FEEL LIKE '99 AGAIN?

"It feels good right now, things are going well. We're performing on the race track and, yeah, it does feel a lot like that. I like what our team is doing. If we can just continue at this pace. If last week was a little bit of a slip, it was only because of a tire problem there -- a cut I guess. It wasn't anything of Goodyear's deal, it was just close racing at Bristol. We had at least a top-10 car, if not a top-five car there, so we're performing well and that's what we need to do."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE YOUNG GUYS TODAY?

"They are tremendous talents and good race drivers, I just hope they don't let this gray fool 'em. There's still a lot of fight in this old dog here. We're gonna battle 'em, but those guys are really good. Kurt Busch did a good job. I know he got his lap back there at one point and it looked like he got his car a lot better. Junior, whether I was gonna catch him or not there if we hadn't got the caution with 20 to go or so, I don't know. He had a pretty good lead. I may have been whittling it down a little bit, but catching him and passing him is another thing. That was probably unfortunate for him, but he had a good weekend and I know he needed a good weekend. We were glad to see that happen. Steve Park, Junior's teammate, they've got a real team going over there. Park is in the battle each and every week, so he's gonna be somebody we're gonna have to contend with."

WHAT ABOUT THE TRACK HERE?

"Eddie Gossage and everybody here has done a really good job in talking to the drivers since the first time we came here in '97. They called the drivers after we left here asking us, 'What can we do to make the racing better for you guys? How can we improve the facility in all ways?' They've really done a fantastic job. As the day went on, we had a second groove come in and you could race in that second groove, so it's just much better racing. Are there a couple of rough spots? Yeah, but they're much better and they also, to me, give me a point on the race track as to where I need to be in the gas or where I need to be on the track. So that's not always a bad thing, plus it gives you another element of having to work your spring and shock combination. I think they need to be commended for what they've done and the hard work and effort that has been put forth around here. It's a great facility. I had the opportunity to go to the Speedway Club and use the workout facility and we need all the race tracks to go over there and see that and do that for everywhere that we go -- that would be really nice -- and the fans have been unbelievable here. They're excited and there are a lot of 'em, so it's fun to come here."

DID YOUR MOVES EARLY IN THE RACE GIVE YOU CONFIDENCE LATE?

"A little bit, but I knew we only had 18 laps to go, I think, whenever we started back. The thing that gave me more confidence was knowing I had four tires and those guys either had none or two. I was afraid that my car usually took 10-12 laps for it to really come in and start going, so I wasn't sure I had that much time. Basically, it took about that and once it got going we didn't need much time. I actually thought there before the last caution when Junior got out and got away from me a little bit, I was kind of hoping the same thing might happen, but it looked like he worked on his car quite a bit and gotten it better, so it was gonna be more difficult to run him down. But it did help to know we had a fast enough car to get through the traffic."

DID YOU HAVE PATIENCE AT THE END TO GET BACK TO THE FRONT?

"I'm not sure I showed any patience there, but what I had to do was after the first couple of laps, your tendency is knowing that aren't many laps left is to really drive the car hard. At that point, I didn't have to worry about fuel mileage or saving any fuel. I didn't have to worry about abusing the tires for a whole run because we only had 18 to go, so you tend to try to drive the car a little harder. I was probably overdriving it to start with and Todd actually came on and told me calm down a little bit and drive the car. That's kind of what I did and let the car work. Once I did that, my mindset was -- as I got to 'em -- I knew I had to pass 'em. I couldn't waste any time. With that few laps to go, once I got to somebody I couldn't sit there behind him because you'd get an aero-push being behind someone and I really couldn't afford to take that time and try to set 'em up more than once. The engine that I had helped me be able to do that. If I'd just be patient enough to get the car through the center of the corner, I could really get off the corner and beat 'em down the straightaway."

DID YOU SAVE SOMETHING FOR LATE?

"I didn't save anything. I wasn't holding anything back all day. I wanted to lead as many laps as I could with the car being that good. I think at the beginning of runs on new tires, at least Junior was better than me. I'm not sure, Park may have been a little bit, but I think I had the better car all day in longer runs, except we got one or two sets of tires -- the mix of those tires and the clouds got us a little bit tight -- and it got us back in the pack a little bit. We just had to sit there and rode it out to that point until we were able to make an adjustment on the car and get another set of tires on it. Personally, I think that Park and Junior and myself were the better cars all day long and pretty equal. Junior was good on the shorter runs and I think Park and myself both were good in the longer runs, so they were pretty equal. I think it was a matter of track position and I was able to get that with my pit crew at the end and that was the real difference."

HOW ABOUT THE TIRE THIS YEAR?

PARROTT: "I think it was a situation where we ran so bad last year -- I wouldn't say so bad -- but we didn't get aggressive enough. He got on me pretty hard over the winter and toward the end of last year about not trying some things and doing some things. With this tire and running it at a lot of places and a lot of different times during the season, we've been able to experiment with some stuff. We've tried some things that we normally don't ever do, but we've hit on something with our shock-spring-swaybar combination and the whole car in general seems to like this tire. It's a great tire. I mean, we haven't had any trouble with it, it's just a matter of this thing going in vicious cycles. You have teams like Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte that were so dominant last year with the tire we had, they've had a little bit of trouble adjusting to this new tire. They've said it themselves that they haven't figured it out yet. When they do figure it out, there's gonna be some pretty incredible racing when you get all of these cars up in a pack."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT LETTING CARS PASS YOU EARLY IN THE RACE?

JARRETT: "My deal was that on new tires my car was pretty loose. If somebody was able to get close to me, it made me a little uncomfortable so I would just give the spot up. I knew it was a long day and if I had to give up two or three, that's what I did. The other side of it is, on fresh tires when you can run those really fast laps, you're gonna turn the engine quite a few RPMs, so I knew going in that with the gear we had I had to take car of our engine. Five hundred miles is a long time because you're in the gas a lot here. The straightaways are long, but you make 'em even longer because you get back in the throttle so early in the corner. I was just being safe with everything, just making sure when it got down to the time of deciding this race that I really had something to race with."

ARE YOU PAYING MORE ATTENTION TO THE BUSCH RACES NOW?

PARROTT: "I think anytime there's a race on television you want to pay attention to what's going on. Now with the Busch Series, the cars are running a lot faster and are a lot more similar to the speeds that the Cup cars are running. The things that happen in that series seem to have an effect with us on Sunday. Not having a car or a team in that race, you have to really pay attention to what's going on. It just so happened that I was in the truck yesterday when the end of the race was coming on and I saw Joe Nemechek come in and get four tires and I saw him pick up four or five spots. Like I said, there was no question in my mind that with fifty-some laps on the tires right there at the end whether we were gonna get four tires, two tires or no tires. I knew we were gonna get four tires. Had they been good, bad, ugly, that was just a chance we were gonna take. It was gonna take four tires to win the race and that's just what we did."

-Ford Racing

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Steve Park , Joe Nemechek , Kurt Busch