Jarrett's win doesn't help him much this year Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 21, 1998) Winning the 1997 TranSouth Financial 400 meant a lot to Dale Jarrett. It meant following in the footsteps of his father, Ned, in...
Jarrett's win doesn't help him much this year Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online
DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 21, 1998) Winning the 1997 TranSouth Financial 400 meant a lot to Dale Jarrett. It meant following in the footsteps of his father, Ned, in victory at Darlington Raceway.
This year, however, in terms of knowledge of race setups for his No. 88 Quality Care/Ford Credit machine, last year's trip to Victory Lane is meaningless. Jarrett won last year's race in a Thunderbird, but will drive a Taurus on the treacherous 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval for the first time competitively.
"We've won here, but there are a lot of other people that have, too," said Jarrett, who comes into Sunday's 293-lap TranSouth Financial 400 at Darlington without a victory this season and running 15th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings. "Plus, we've got a totally different race car than we've had here and definitely different rules, so it's taken some imagination. You just can't open up the notes from what worked here and won the TranSouth 400 last year because if you do that, you're not going to be very good."
Last year, Jarrett was only the second second-generation driver to win a race at Darlington Raceway. Ned Jarrett won the 1965 Southern 500 there. Buddy Baker was the other second-generation driver to win at Darlington, following his father, Buck.
"It's pretty special," Dale Jarrett said. "This is a place, as much as anywhere, that I wanted to win. Certainly because my dad won here, but just the tradition with this race track and how difficult it is.
"There's not a driver that's ever been here that won't tell you this is the most difficult race track they've ever been on. And the driver has such a big part in doing well here and doing bad, so we've had time to look back on that and this is definitely one of the most special wins of my career."
Sunday's race will be the first NASCAR Winston Cup Series race since the rules change on Monday. Fords have dominated last two events at Las Vegas and at Atlanta, and NASCAR took two inches off the width of the spoiler in an attempt to even up the playing field.
"I think you're gonna see a lot of the same thing (Fords running up front Sunday)," Jarrett said. "We've got some good race teams with Ford and people have worked awful hard in areas that, no matter what they do bodywise, we can overcome a lot of it because we've worked hard on the chassis.
"That's what we've had to do for years. They keep talking about the downforce advantage we've had, but we've just worked hard in other areas and there are a lot of good teams and good race drivers, and that's made the difference. I don't have any doubts that you're probably gonna see some Fords up front, but no matter what the change in rules does, the good teams are still gonna be up there."
Jarrett will start from the inside of Row 2 in Sunday's TranSouth Financial 400. After seven wins last season, he's looking to get into Victory Lane for the first time in 1998, and to gain only his second top-five finish of the season.
Source: NASCAR Online