Ford Racing Dale Jarrett 1999 Driver of the Year

DALE JARRETT 1999 DRIVER OF THE YEAR NASCAR/Winston Cup champion Dale Jarrett has climaxed his dream season by being named DRIVER OF THE YEAR for 1999. Formal announcement of the honor for Jarrett, 43, will be made Saturday, ...


NASCAR/Winston Cup champion Dale Jarrett has climaxed his dream season by being named DRIVER OF THE YEAR for 1999. Formal announcement of the honor for Jarrett, 43, will be made Saturday, December 4th, during a luncheon at the fashionable New York restaurant Le Cirque 2000. "To say I'm excited about this honor would be an understatement, quite honestly," said the driver of the No. 88 Robert Yates/Ford Quality Care Taurus. "It's one thing to be considered in Winston Cup racing, but THE DRIVER OF THE YEAR is for all forms of motorsports and I know there are a lot of other drivers who had tremendous years and to think that we were thought of enough to be honored with this award throughout all of motorsports is just almost more than I can comprehend. "It's an honor I hope everyone at Robert Yates Racing will accept with me and know that it took everyone there, Robert, Doug Yates and Todd Parrott especially." While the announcement is Saturday, formal presentation of the DRIVER OF THE YEAR award to Jarrett will be during the International Motorsports Hall of Fame inductions at Talladega, Alabama on April 13th. Selection of the DRIVER OF THE YEAR is by a blue-ribbon panel of 15 national motorsports journalists, both print and electronic. While four quarterly votes are staged, the winner is then selected by a secret ballot of the panel members at the end of the year. Runner-up in the final balloting was CART/FED-EX Series Champion Juan Montoya. In rolling to his first Winston Cup title, second generation driver Jarrett won four races, led the series standings since May 15th and actually clinched the title at the Miami/Homestead race earlier this month. As a possible precursor of things to come he was voted the third quarter DRIVER OF THE YEAR honor after his victory in first the Pepsi 400 at Daytona and then in the Indianapolis Brickyard 400. The cup championship was the culmination of 23 years of hard work, sometimes-sleepless nights and devotion to the task ahead by Jarrett and his family and friends. His father, Ned, was Winston Cup champion in 1961 and '65 and is now a TV race commentator. "My faith is really what has gotten me to this point," Jattett says. "And certainly gotten me through not only some difficult times, but certainly helped me make some very important decisions in my life. "I think we can use 1995 as an example when I went to Robert Yates Racing. Things didn't go at the beginning exactly like we had wanted them to and a lot of things were being said, but I think that it was my faith that helped me get through that time, to handle it in a professional manner and to realize that even if things didn't go great on the race track that year, that everything was going to be OK. "Certainly my faith and using prayer helped me make many decisions through my career. I use the Wood Brothers as an example of having a choice of leaving there after the '91 season. That was a very difficult decision and then to leave Gibbs Racing for a one-year -deal-at that time-with Robert Yates Racing. "These were just things we couldn't do on our own and it was our faith and our prayers that helped get us through some of the difficult times and to help us make some very important decisions. "The difficult times, all of those helped make me a better driver and a better person." Jarrett said when he takes the podium at Le Cirque 2000 he probably will again think back to some of those early days, just as he did during his commemorative victory lap at Atlanta after the series final race. "I think that will again bring back memories of the early days and things along the way," Jarrett says. One of those thoughts may be of that day in 1984 when he'd gone without sleep for two days because of working on his then Busch Series car. "That was in a garage only a mile from my present shop," Jarrett recalls with a chuckle. "The crew came in that third morning and found me asleep across a tire." Those were the days when wife Kelley, a schoolteacher and the family (now including Jason, Natalee, Karsyn and Zachary) became familiar with the sacrifices of being in racing. And the Jarretts, now at the top of the racing world, give thanks for their success through donations of time and money to a number of charities including the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer foundation, Disabled American Veterans and the Lutheran Counseling Center there in hometown Hickory, N.C.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Robert Yates
Teams Yates Racing