The NASCAR Winston Cup Series officially begins its summer swing this week when the circuit heads to Dover, Delaware for the MBNA Platinum 400. Ford driver Dale Jarrett talks about his season so far and what lies ahead in the future. DALE...
The NASCAR Winston Cup Series officially begins its summer swing this week when the circuit heads to Dover, Delaware for the MBNA Platinum 400. Ford driver Dale Jarrett talks about his season so far and what lies ahead in the future.
DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus
CAN YOU PINPOINT WHERE YOUR PROBLEMS ARE? "We've kind of gotten out in left field. I went through this one time. When you start building chassis, you've got to be extremely careful as to what you do. There have been people over the years that have tried to do a lot of things and they kind of find themselves in the same shape we're in right now, so we've got to get our cars back to where they're all the same and I can relay from one week to the next what our cars are doing."
HAVE YOU LOST THE BASICS THEN?
"Yeah, when you start struggling a little bit or somebody starts doing something a little different, you start trying things and you start experimenting. The next thing you know, you've got the points moved around because this makes sense, the tire has changed, we've got a taller tire at some of the different race tracks, and all of that changes what you look at, but that there are different ways of going about it. We have to go back to the basics and we've gotten away from that. That's got us totally fouled up. I told them last week, this car is doing so many things that I can't begin to tell you exactly what it's doing. So I'm not being able to do my job because I can't relate to them exactly what it's doing."
DOES IT HELP TO HAVE YOUR CREW CHIEF BACK?
"Well, we've made some progress, but, there again, we've got to get to the race tracks. You can't do this in the garage. Todd does a great job, but all of this can be overwhelming. We've lost some people and that's just put more work on the people that we have, so it has helped but we've still got a lot of work to do. This isn't gonna be a quick-fix situation. It's not like we're gonna say, 'Alright, we're gonna go test the next two weeks and we're gonna be ready to win then.' We may find ourselves in a position to win, but we're not running well right now and we've got some work to do there. This is gonna be something that's gonna take months to really get back to where we're there on a consistent basis."
DOES THIS MEAN BUILDING TOTALLY NEW CARS?
"We'll have to do some building of new cars, possibly even get back to running some chassis from the outside like Ronnie Hopkins or something like that, and some of them we'll be able to just re-do at our shop because we're building them there. There are just some things that we have to look at."
WHAT ABOUT THE CREW GUYS WHO HAVE LEFT YOUR TEAM?
"It just puts a strain. Anytime you've got x-number of people. Let's say you've got 20 people that are doing a job there and you lose three, four or five of those, then that puts a strain on the rest of the guys. I think that's a direction we've got to look in and hire the help that he needs to make all of this happen."
HOW DO YOU ADJUST MENTALLY FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON?
"I think you have to have a little bit different mindset. There are guys up there in the top 10 that are still thinking about a championship. It's not that we've given up on that, but we've got our priorities in another order right now. We've got to get back to contending. I thought a couple of weeks ago that we were kind of headed in that direction, but you start getting different race tracks and things are changing. We've got to be ready and prepared for that. We've got to accept as a team that we're not the team that we were a couple of years ago and even early last year, so we've got to work through that. We've got to get some unity among the team. We've got some new people in and we've got to get some other people to come in there, so it's gonna be a re-building process and you just have to understand that going in. Everybody has to know that as we move through this and as we have a little bit of success, we can enjoy that but we've got a long way to go."
YOU'VE GOT DOVER AND POCONO COMING UP, A COUPLE OF DEMANDING RACES.
"That's good. I'm glad it's turned hot. That's what I want to see. For these guys that don't work out or don't do anything, that's good. I'm glad we've got long races and hard races, so I'm looking forward to that."
HOW DID THINGS FALL OFF FROM WHERE YOU WERE TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
"I don't know that you really know how they do that -- it just kind of happens. It doesn't just happen in our sport, it happens in other sports and it happens in business. As people become successful and things start happening their people get hired away, or they change teams, whatever it may be, then all of a sudden you're having to re-group and have different people come in. Then you've got to change because it's always changing. Whatever business you're in, you've got to keep up with the times and that's where we've fallen behind. We haven't utilized our testing very well the last year or so. I would say that there have been very few tests, if any that I can remember, where we've gone away from that test saying, 'Man, that's really gonna help us.' We've got to get back to learning some things at these tests and that's gonna start Wednesday at Pocono."
WHAT HAPPENS IN THOSE TESTS WHERE YOU DON'T LEARN?
"I think we go there and we're not willing to deviate from what we've known in the past works. We did kind of the same things -- the same shocks, the same springs, the same spring rubbers, moving weight forward and back. We just haven't given it a fair chance at trying some new, fresh ideas and that's what we've got to do. We've got a whole list of things and we're gonna have a very busy Wednesday and Thursday."