MOORESVILLE, N.C., (November 8, 2005) ----- The UPS Team travels to Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) for the second time in 2005 where driver Dale Jarrett is a one-time winner at the mile in the desert. It is the next to last race for the...
MOORESVILLE, N.C., (November 8, 2005) ----- The UPS Team travels to Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) for the second time in 2005 where driver Dale Jarrett is a one-time winner at the mile in the desert. It is the next to last race for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. While the UPS Team is out of contention to finish 11th in the point standings, the team has some concrete goals it would like to accomplish during the last two races of the season, specifically with this weekend's race at Phoenix. The flat, shorter tracks have not been in the team's favor the last couple season, and they hope to rectify that beginning this weekend. Earlier this fall at Richmond, the team qualified ninth at Richmond, another short, flat track. Jarrett was in the top 15 throughout most of the night before being collected in a late race accident that eliminated the UPS Ford from competition. The team hopes to use some of what was learned at Richmond this week at Phoenix.
"The short, flat tracks have not been our best tracks for a while," Jarrett said. "Phoenix in particular has been a track where we've struggled as far as finding the right balance on the car. The way we ran at Richmond certainly was a big improvement despite where we finished. How much of that will translate for this weekend's race it's hard to tell. There are some tendencies that can be the same, but they are still pretty different tracks. We've raced this particular car a couple times this year and there are some pretty significant changes we've made since we last raced it so I'm looking forward to seeing how those changes improve things for us this weekend."
The UPS Team has finished 22nd or worse in their last three races at PIR. Prior to the 2003 race at Phoenix, however, the team posted four consecutive top-10 finishes. Since the #88 UPS/Robert Yates Racing Team was created in 1996, they have put together six top-10 finishes in 10 races, including a win at the track in 1997.
Dale Jarrett Discusses Racing at Phoenix
How hard is it to travel to the West Coast this late in the season?
"It's a tough trip anytime of the year, but it isn't that difficult for the drivers. The people it is probably harder on are the teams and the transporter drivers. We get to this point in the season and I think I can speak for everyone when I say we're pretty much ready for the year to be over. The last three races -- Texas, Phoenix, Homestead -- are all long trips but especially for the transporter drivers. As for me personally, it is hard because these last few weeks are going to involve being away from home for several days between the activities at the race tracks, testing and various sponsor commitments so I can safely say we're ready for this season to come to a close and to start getting ready for next year."
Other than a win, what does the UPS Team hope to accomplish during these final two races?
"The biggest thing is laying a foundation for next year and momentum. We fell off at the end of last season and it showed when this season started. We've made a lot of improvements the last eight or nine races as far as our aerodynamics program goes, but we still have a lot of work to do. Obviously we'd love to win one more before the season is over, but the biggest thing is going to Phoenix this weekend and being competitive. It hasn't been a good track for us the last couple years so we'd like to go and do the same thing we've done the last few weeks and that's be competitive. We ran comparatively well at Texas and Atlanta compared to how we did at those two tracks in the spring. We'd like to do the same at Phoenix and then have a good race at Homestead -- to the extent that we're able to learn some things that will help us as we continue to get ready for 2006."
Notes of Interest
* Jarrett has one career win at Phoenix, securing that win by leading 73 laps during the 1997 event.
* Jarrett has been running at the end of all but three of the 18 races that have taken place at PIR since the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series started racing there in 1988. A pair of engine failures plagued Jarrett in 1988 and 1991 while he was taken out of racing action by a late-race accident in 1990.
* The UPS Team was one of several that are participating in the test session at Homestead-Miami Speedway this week. They will spend Wednesday, November 9th preparing for the season finale next weekend.
Chassis 56 is the car Jarrett is racing this weekend at Phoenix. Chassis 56 has been raced twice by the UPS Team during the 2005 season. The car was raced at California during the Labor Day weekend race where Jarrett finished 24th. It was also raced at New Hampshire in September where the team finished 18th after starting 33rd.