This Week in Ford Racing August 17, 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, has long maintained that Michigan International Speedway, site of this weekend's Michigan 400, is one of his favorite race ...
This Week in Ford Racing
August 17, 2004
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, has long maintained that Michigan International Speedway, site of this weekend's Michigan 400, is one of his favorite race tracks. He scored the first victory of his Cup career on the wide, two-mile oval in 1991, edging Davey Allison, and later added victories in '96, '99 and '02. Jarrett has 14 top-five finishes in 35 career starts at MIS - including a third-place showing there back in June. He heads into this weekend's race in 14th place in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series standings, 87 points out of the top 10.
DALE JARRETT - No. 88 UPS Taurus
IT'S COMMON KNOWLEDGE THAT MICHIGAN HAS LONG BEEN ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE TRACKS. WAS IT A FAVORITE OF YOURS BEFORE YOU HAD SUCCESS THERE?
"Yeah, probably so. Gosh, it was probably a favorite race track to watch races before I got into the Cup series, just because it seemed like there were always entertaining and exciting races. The track was wide and everybody was running different grooves. When I became a driver there, I think I just found that to me more true in the seat of the race car - what a blast it is to race. And, success always helps that, too, and we've had a lot of that, and I look forward to going back."
HOW LONG AGO DOES 1991 AND YOUR FIRST VICTORY SEEM TO YOU?
"A lot has happened, certainly. It may be one of the defining moments in my career to be able to beat the team that I drive for now, for Robert Yates Racing, to beat their car with the Wood Brothers, is pretty special. So much has happened, gosh, it seems like it was an eternity, although it wasn't that long."
DOES THAT FIRST WIN GIVE A DRIVER CREDIBILITY? DO PEOPLE IN THE GARAGE LOOK AT YOU DIFFERENTLY AFTER THAT?
"Yeah, I think that definitely they do - and especially if you win in a way that you were battling somebody that was at the top of the sport at that time and were able to come out victorious. I think that that means a lot, and people look at you differently. One win doesn't do it, but it certainly gets you started. And I think that certainly gained a lot of respect that day."
THE 88 TEAM IS HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AT THE RIGHT TIME. DO YOU LOOK BACK AT THE FIRST MICHIGAN RACE THIS YEAR AS KIND OF A KEY MOMENT?
"Yeah, as far as a finish. I think it started the week before that at Pocono. Even though we broke with five laps or less remaining there, running in the top five, but I think Michigan, to put a whole day together - even though we didn't qualify well - we showed that we adjusted the car and put ourselves into position to win and made the right calls. All of that was helping to lead us in the direction that we needed to be going. We knew that that was a place, just as we know going this time that it's a place that can certainly help put us into a better position."
HOW IS THE MOOD AND CONFIDENCE OF THIS TEAM RIGHT NOW? IS THIS TEAM DIALED IN?
"Much better now because we've had some time together, and everybody's been working together for five or six months now. That's helped us tremendously, just having that time together, and all the testing that we've done. I think that we are focused on what we need to be doing. And I know that everybody probably thinks that our focus is on the top 10; our focus is not on the top 10, our focus is running well, putting ourselves in a position to win. We need to get back to Victory Lane with this race team. It's not saying that it has to happen right now, but we have to keep putting ourselves in that position. That's what we're focused on. If we do that, then the points will take care of themselves. I think that our focus is in the right place, and that comes from our leadership with Mike [Ford, crew chief], that he's not concerned about that top-10 points-wise, sure, we want to be in that but we know if we do our job on the race track and we do our job in the pits, all of that will come."