JARRETT CLINCHES NASCAR WINSTON CUP CHAMPIONSHIP Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus, clinched his first NASCAR Winston Cup championship after finishing fifth in today's Pennzoil 400. ...
JARRETT CLINCHES NASCAR WINSTON CUP CHAMPIONSHIP
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus, clinched his first NASCAR Winston Cup championship after finishing fifth in today's Pennzoil 400. Jarrett's title capped an outstanding season for Ford Motor Company, which won the manufacturer's championship in both the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and NASCAR Winston Cup Series. In addition, Jarrett's first-place finish marked the sixth time Ford has won the driver's championship in NASCAR's top division. It also marks the second time in NASCAR Winston Cup history that a father and son have won the championship. The Jarrett's -- Dale and Ned -- now join Lee and Richard Petty in that select group. Ned, who captured his first title in 1961, won his second in 1965 giving Ford it's first championship. Lee Petty won three crowns (1954, '58 and '59) while Richard won a series-tying best seven (1964, '67, '71, '72, '74, '75, '79). David Pearson is Ford's only multiple champion as he won 27 races and captured 26 poles en route to back-to-back titles in 1968 and '69. Bill Elliott registered the first driver's championship for Ford in the modern era, which started in 1972, by 24 points over Rusty Wallace. The last Ford driver to claim the championship was the late Alan Kulwicki, who edged Elliott by the narrowest margin in NASCAR Winston Cup history -- 10 points in 1992. In winning the championship this season, Jarrett has posted four wins, 23 top-five and 28 top-10 finishes in 33 starts. After finishing 37th in the season-opening Daytona 500, Jarrett went on a hot streak by registering 18 top-five efforts in the next 21 races. He took the NASCAR Winston Cup points lead after his victory at Richmond in the Pontiac Excitement 400 on May 15 and never relinquished it the rest of the year. Jarrett increased his margin for 11 straight weeks, from the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte in May to the Pepsi 400 at Michigan in August, and found himself with a commanding 314-point margin at the end of that run. Since then his lead got below 200 points only once and that came after the Pepsi Southern 500 at Darlington when Mark Martin cut the deficit to 168 points.
DALE JARRETT IN 1999 -- 33 starts; 4 wins (listed below); 23 top 5's; 28 top 10's)
Date Race Track May 15 Pontiac Excitement 400 Richmond International Raceway June 13 Big Kmart 400 Michigan Speedway July 3 Pepsi 400 Daytona International Speedway August 7 Brickyard 400 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
FORD'S NASCAR WINSTON CUP CHAMPIONS Year Driver Car Owner Wins Poles 1965 Ned Jarrett Bondy Long 13 9 1968 David Pearson Holman-Moody 16 12 1969 David Pearson Holman-Moody 11 14 1988 Bill Elliott Harry Melling 6 6 1992 Alan Kulwicki Alan Kulwicki 2 6 1999 Dale Jarrett Robert Yates 4 0
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus (Finished 5th) -- HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE CHAMPION? "Fantastic. I've just gotta thank God for the talent of this race team and putting me here with such great people like Robert and Carolyn Yates, Doug Yates, Todd Parrott, this entire organization has done a fantastic job. I thank my family for their support, certainly Ford Motor Company, Ford Quality Care, Ford Credit, Coca-Cola, everybody involved here -- Fleetwood RVs, Planter's Peanuts -- it just takes an entire group of people and sponsors to make this happen. We want to look back and thank two guys that helped bring this organization to where it is -- Davey Allison for getting all this started and then Ernie Irvan for his contrbution in making this a winning operation. Without their talents and their support, we'd have never gotten this far and we just want to make sure those guys are remembered for being a part of this. This is just fantastic." THE YEAR DIDN'T START OUT TOO WELL AT DAYTONA. "No, it didn't start out looking like that. We had a great car there, but unfortunately it didn't turn out that way. These guys worked hard, they knew that we had a chance to be a top caliber team. They weren't gonna give up. They've worked relentlessly all year. They've never given up, not at any time and when you have a guy that's the best in the business running it in Todd Parrott and the experience of Robert Yates, you know that good things are gonna happen." WHEN DID YOU THINK YOU COULD WIN IT? "I think we were probably two-thirds of the way through that I thought we had the opportunity to do it. We were running well, we were consistent, we weren't having any problems and that's when I knew we were kind of in control of our own destiny at that time, that if we didn't mess up and do crazy things that this could happen." YOU WERE CONFIDENT BEFORE THE RACE THAT YOU'D BE OK, YOU DIDN'T MAKE MANY CHANGES. "No, not many changes. This was a day that Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte were the best race car and this was a race for them to battle out to win. Our job was to finish in the top eight and we thought we had a car that was very capable of that, if we could stay out of trouble. Everybody did a great job out here today and Todd, as usual, gave me a good race car, one that I could just be easy with and get into positions I needed to." IT'S SPECIAL HAVING YOUR FAMILY HERE TOO ISN'T IT? "Yeah, it really is. Not many people have the opportunity to work around their family and I have that opportunity week in and week out. My family means the world to me. My dad for his support, my mom, my wife Kelley and my children, they're just fantastic. I miss a lot of stuff that they do, but, hopefully, this pays back a little bit." HOW LONG UNTIL THIS SOAKS IN? "I don't know. We're gonna enjoy this for quite a while. I hope that we can represent this sport well as their champion for an entire year, but we're gonna have a big time tonight."