Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, participated in a Speed Channel press conference regarding a new program centering around the Chase for the Nextel Cup. Jarrett spoke about his role as an analyst and also answered questions...
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, participated in a Speed Channel press conference regarding a new program centering around the Chase for the Nextel Cup. Jarrett spoke about his role as an analyst and also answered questions about the upcoming 10-week chase.
DALE JARRETT - No. 88 UPS Taurus
WHERE WOULD YOU WANT TO BE GOING INTO THE CHASE? "I'd want to be in the lead. Put me in the front and let everybody else chase me down. That's the position that I would most want to be in and I think most of the guys would want to be in - that have been somewhere around that. There's pressure in every position that you have in those top 10 when they get to the chase. Each and every week is gonna be a tremendous amount of pressure, but the guy out front sets the pace and he realizes that if he should happen to have a problem or an off day, it's not gonna cost him nearly as much as say the guy in sixth or seventh if he has a bad day. It's gonna be harder for him to catch up, so I think the guy out front has a big advantage."
HOW MUCH STRATEGY WILL THERE BE IN THIS RACE? "There are a lot of different strategies in this race. Obviously, for the guys that have already made the chase, it's wide open for them. It's their opportunity to either go win another race or for some of the guys, like Mark and Rusty, I think Rusty is in it if he just starts on Saturday night, but it just gives him the chance to go run and get a victory - something they haven't done yet this year. Obviously, when you get back to eighth with Carl Edwards and from there back to about 13th, each of those guys is on a little different agenda. I know Carl can finish in the top 19 and he'll be in regardless of what happens, so I would look for them to have a little different strategy than say somebody like my teammate, Elliott Sadler, who has to put everything on the line and get as many points as he possibly can - run as hard as he can - lead laps if he can do that. Everybody is gonna be paying attention to what each one of those cars is doing - not necessarily the driver because he's gonna get that information, but a lot of different strategies. This will probably be one of the most interesting races we've ever seen."
ARE YOU LOOKING AT BROADCASTING MORE WHEN YOUR CAREER ENDS? "What little bit I've done I've found it very interesting to look at the races from a different perspective. As I've done a little bit of the race broadcasts and thinking about this show, being able to look at the race in a little different perspective - seeing who has been good at these different race tracks and maybe who hasn't been as good and why that would be. Obviously all of them are very talented and have very good race teams if they're in the chase, so this is something I'm looking at for down the road. Whether I get involved more will dependent on how good of a job I do and what exactly may come along. So I enjoy this part of it. By no means am I looking to quite my day job anytime soon, but I think that this is a lot of fun. Being a driver and a driver that will be competing with these guys, I think I can give a little different idea of what they may be thinking."
WHO WILL WIN THE CUP? "All of them obviously have the opportunity, but I don't think you can look past Tony Stewart. I think that the momentum they have. They've shown that they can win on every type of race track and I think with Tony's experience and being a champion before, I would look for him to be hard to beat."
YOU'VE WORN THE WHITE HAT FOR YEARS AND NOW AFTER BRISTOL DO YOU SUDDENTLY FIND A BLACK HAT PLOPPED DOWN ON YOUR HEAD AND, IF SO, HOW DO YOU VIEW IT AND HOW ARE YOU DEALING WITH IT? "No, I'm fine with everything."
IF YOU WERE IN TONY STEWART'S SHOES WOULD YOU RACE TOMORROW OR WOULD YOU JUST PARK IT? "We're here to race. That's what we do is race. The reason is because he knows he can win, so that's why he's gonna race tomorrow night. If we ever got in thinking that something might happen or only bad things could happen, then we wouldn't get in to start with, but Tony and his people know that there is something that maybe they can learn. Even as good as they've been, they can still learn something here tomorrow night."
YOU ARE STILL MATHEMATICALLY ALIVE TO MAKE THE CHASE. HAVE YOU LOOKED AT THAT? "No, I haven't. Maybe a 40-car wreck and that may be stretching it at that (laughing). Those guys would have to finish in the right spots for that to happen. No, I haven't even looked at it because there are too many good race cars and drivers in between myself and what would have to happen, so, no. Even though mathematically it's still there, it's a very, very slim chance."
ELLIOTT SAID YOU RACE GUYS THE WAY THEY RACE YOU AND HE COMPLIMENTED THAT STYLE OF RACING. CAN YOU COMMENT ON THAT? "That's the way I've always tried to do things. I turned a saying that my dad told me a long time ago. I've taken it and turned it a little bit to fit racing and he always told me that the best way to get ahead in this was to treat people the way that you want to be treated. Now I took that and changed that a little bit and I've always raced people the way that they've raced me. If we want to race and race hard side-by-side and good things happen from there, that's fine. If we don't want to, then you might not like the outcome of the other side of it."
HOW DID YOU FEEL AFTER LAST YEAR'S RACE AT RICHMOND WHEN YOU JUST FELL SHORT OF THE CHASE? "It was disappointing. We worked extremely hard and we didn't run very well in the race. That was the most disappointing thing - that we really came here last year with a shot at racing our way in and we just didn't perform very well. So it was very disappointing. It's a big thing to be a part of the chase and it was quite a letdown. So all of the emotions and all of the build-up, all of a sudden all of that is gone. It was a tough couple of days after that, but then we've got a race the next week and all of that goes by the wayside."
HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF YOU WERE A YOUNG DRIVER AND PAID YOUR DUES BUT GOT LEAPFROGGED BY SOMEONE ELSE? "That would be difficult, but I think that the one thing our sport has always done - you get questions a lot about 'how can my son or my daughter get involved in this sport to become a driver?' There's no set way to do that, but there are certain people that have started at a young age and have done all the right things to move on up. I understand giving everyone, regardless of race or their gender, I think giving everybody a fair chance is great. But there's also something in there that should be said for the ones that put their tail out there on the line. Maybe they've mortgaged everything and done everything possible to try to make it as a driver, so that would be tough for those that are in that position. But, then again, I think the idea is to try to give everybody a fair shake at this."
HOW MUCH BETTER PREPARED DID YOU THINK YOU WERE FOR THIS YEAR AND WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN FOR NEXT YEAR? "I thought at the beginning of the year that we were better prepared. I could sit here all afternoon and talk about things that I think and there are things that Robert thinks and Elliott - we all have ideas as to why we haven't performed, but we have areas that we're gonna have to address. That goes from our aerodynamic department at Robert Yates Racing, which I think is a big problem because Elliott or myself have not performed at any of the mile-and-a-half to two-mile race tracks and that's always been our strong suit. So I think that we have some issues there all the way to personnel and we have to look at all of that and take all of that into consideration as we get prepared for next year. Obviously, Elliott still has a big night tomorrow night. He can race his way in there, but from our perspective we've got some hard facts to look at and there are issues that we have to address to get these race cars to driving better. You can't ask us to go try to do things with these cars that's not possible to do if you don't have it driving that way. There are too many issues for us to sit here and talk about this afternoon."
ANYTHING SPECIFIC? "I'll address one situation. In March after Atlanta I went in and made the statement to Robert - we were in a meeting and to a number of other people at Robert Yates Racing that were in the meeting - I said then that our cars aero-wise were not gonna allow Elliott and myself to do the things that I saw the guys in the Roush camp could do with their race cars. I was told then that our aero department was second to none. I'm not good enough as far as aerodynamically to go be specific with them. I just saw that what they could do wasn't a chassis issue, it was an aero situation so we're now addressing that. It's a little late, but, hopefully, it'll be better for these last 11."