MOORESVILLE, N.C. (July 19, 2005) ----- It's back to the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series this weekend. Pocono plays host for the second time in six weeks. Dale Jarrett and the ...
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (July 19, 2005) ----- It's back to the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series this weekend. Pocono plays host for the second time in six weeks. Dale Jarrett and the #88 UPS Team finished 13th at Pocono in July, but hope to improve upon that performance during this weekend's race, and use that finish to create some momentum for the final seven races before the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup Championship.
"We didn't have the car exactly right last time we were at Pocono," Jarrett said. "We still have some work to do as far as making our down force program competitive. We worked on some things during our test at Indianapolis this week that we think may help us this weekend in Pocono. If we're going to make a turnaround in our program then this is the weekend to do it. It's a track I feel like I know well and know what it takes to be successful at, but more importantly we're getting closer to that Chase cut off and we're in the same position we were in a year ago. So hopefully we can make some progress this week and then that will carry us when we get to Indianapolis, Michigan and the other down force tracks."
Jarrett Discusses Racing at Pocono Raceway
What about the race at Pocono this weekend?
"Obviously this is a critical weekend for this team. We have really pretty much struggled on the down force tracks and these are tracks where this team has historically performed well. We're talking about the tracks like Michigan, Pocono and Chicago. These are the tracks that we looked at as being able to pick up some points and we just haven't done that. We've been consistent in that we've been able to keep out of trouble and fortunately we haven't had any kind of equipment failures, but it's going to take a lot more than that if we're going to make it to the Chase. Are we the 10th best team in the series right now? I don't think so. But if we don't find something soon to help our program then we're going to be on the outside looking in at the Chase again."
Does the track change much from June to July -- a time span of six weeks between the track's two events?
"No, I don't think so. The track may be a little more slick just given the amount of heat we've experienced during the last several weeks. It's been pretty warm, but no, we don't usually see a lot of difference. We will make some slight adjustments from what we did in June but not a lot. The UPS Team is taking a different car there this weekend than what we raced in June just because we've had it in Indianapolis testing this week and we feel it's going to be a better car for us at Pocono this weekend. That has happened for us a lot in the past. We've tested a car at Indy and decide to take it to Pocono so hopefully it turns out well this weekend."
How different was it for you six weeks ago to be at Pocono and not shifting?
"It definitely was difficult to avoid that urge to shift. I felt like I wasn't doing my job, riding down the straightaway with two hands on the steering wheel and that's not normal. I'm supposed to be doing something. When you get to the corner all you have to do is brake and then turn and that doesn't seem right. It's been a long time since we raced at Pocono without shifting. Five or six years ago we qualified a couple times and didn't shift and that was strange, but being there in June and not doing anything but driving the car was definitely different. I guess you can't say you didn't hit your marks because you had all this other stuff to do. That excuse is out the window now."
Notes of Interest
Jarrett continues to lead all drivers for laps run in the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season. Jarrett has completed 5,379 of the 5,390 laps run, running all but 11 laps.
Jarrett has three career wins at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway. He has won two races at Pocono during the track's July event, picking up wins in July 1995 and July 1997.
Chassis 40 is the car the UPS Team will race during this weekend's Pennsylvania 500. Chassis 40 is the same car the UPS Team raced at Lowe's Motor Speedway in October 2004. Jarrett started that race from the 39th position and raced it to a sixth-place finish.