MOORESVILLE, N.C., (November 16, 2005) ----- The 2005 NASCAR season draws to a close with this weekend's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (HMS). Dale Jarrett and the UPS Team travel to Homestead, Fla., for this weekend's event with three ...
MOORESVILLE, N.C., (November 16, 2005) ----- The 2005 NASCAR season draws to a close with this weekend's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (HMS). Dale Jarrett and the UPS Team travel to Homestead, Fla., for this weekend's event with three consecutive top-14 finishes. The team most recently finished ninth at Phoenix International Raceway, their first top-10 finish since winning at Talladega in early October. The team's recent performance has made Jarrett optimistic about the impending off-season in which the team will prepare for the 2006 NASCAR season.
"Some of our finishes the last month haven't been indicative of how we've run," Jarrett said. "We had a good car at Charlotte and Martinsville, but didn't get a good chance to show it because we were caught up in accidents both times. The cars have been running a lot better and it seems like we keep gaining on things which is better than we were a year ago when we really weren't seeing any improvements. Todd (Parrott) and the guys are working hard. We're not battling for a championship but we're working on our program so that next year at this time we may be in a position to be battling for that championship."
In six starts at Homestead, Jarrett's best finish has been a fifth-place effort in the track's inaugural NEXTEL Cup Series event in 1999 -- the same event at which Jarrett clinched the 1999 NASCAR championship. During the 2004 Ford 400, the UPS Team experienced an up-and-down day. The team lost two laps to the leaders after having to make a green-flag pit stop for a loose lug nut. Jarrett made up those two laps and was running in third place when the event went into NASCAR's version of overtime due to a late race caution. The UPS Ford ran out of fuel, one lap beyond the event's regulation length of 267-laps. He wound up 24th in the final race results.
Jarrett Discusses Racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway
How different is Homestead from when the Cup Series first raced at the track in 1999?
"The track is night and day. It's much more conducive for our cars than it was when the Cup cars came here in 1999. The biggest thing is the multiple racing grooves. Passing is hard enough, but the thing with Homestead is there is a little adjustability as far as the line where the car works best. If it isn't working well right along the bottom, then you have the ability to move up a little in the groove and see how it works there. The changes have made better racing and much better competition for the fans."
How important is this weekend's race for those not battling for the championship?
"I think it's important to all the teams for different reasons. Our two teams, the 88 and Elliott with the 38, are trying to learn as much as we can as we go into the off season to get ready for next year. Elliott still has a chance to finish 11th in the point standings and we'll be doing what we can to help each other to try and get that for the M&M'S team and Robert Yates Racing. I think for other teams that are making changes next year you'll see them just trying to get a good finish or a win just to end the season on a strong note. Do you have to finish well to start next year off well? No, but it certainly feels a lot better going back home and getting ready for next year knowing that you are on the right page as we start preparing our cars for the 2006 season."
Notes of Interest
* While Jarrett has yet to win at Homestead in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competition, it is a feat he has accomplished in NASCAR Busch Series competition. He won the inaugural Busch Series event at Homestead in 1995 driving for the team he used to own.
* The UPS Team was one of several teams that tested at HMS prior to the race at Phoenix last week. The team spent Wednesday at the 1.5-mile track preparing for this weekend's race.
* Jarrett is one of several Team Ford Racing drivers that will appear at the Ford Racing Fan event in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on Thursday, Nov. 17th from 4 to 6 p.m. EST.
Chassis 54 is the car the UPS Team is competing with during this weekend's Ford 400 at Homestead. Chassis 54 has been raced a few times in the last month. It most recently appeared at Texas where the UPS Team finished 12th after starting 29th. It was also raced at Atlanta in October where Jarrett started ninth and finished 14th.