Pop Secret 400 - Oct. 24, 1999 Finishing second in last weekend's Winston 500 at the Talladega (Ala.) Speedway, Dale Jarrett gained 24 points and carries a 246-point lead in the point standings as he prepares for this weekend's Pop Secret 400...
Pop Secret 400 - Oct. 24, 1999
Finishing second in last weekend's Winston 500 at the Talladega (Ala.) Speedway, Dale Jarrett gained 24 points and carries a 246-point lead in the point standings as he prepares for this weekend's Pop Secret 400 at the North Carolina Speedway. Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus, heads into this race not as a previous race winner but as a driver that out of 23 starts at "The Rock" has finished second six times, most recently earlier this year in the first race at Rockingham (started 11th). He has also collected nine top-10 finishes. His first Winston Cup start at NCS was in 1984 (Oct.) - he started 27th and finished 37th. His best start at this track was in this particular race in 1996 - won the pole position (finished second that day).
Although he has never visited victory lane in the Winston Cup Series at NCS, Jarrett has won at this track in the Busch Series - March, 1991.
In 1999, Jarrett has collected four wins (Richmond, Michigan-June, Daytona-July and Indianapolis-Brickyard 400), 21 top-five finishes and 25 top-10s. He has led 829 laps. The following are his thoughts and comments on this weekend's race at Rockingham:
"The Rock" has been good to DJ: "We were able to bounce back from our disappointing weekend in Daytona (500) and ran okay to get a second-place finish. This has been an unusually good track for this team. We know we can go there with the confidence to gain points or at least knowing we shouldn't lose any."
Four more races left: "Yeah, not like we're counting or anything. Just like Todd (Parrott) said at the end of the race in Talladega, only four more Fridays and four more Sundays. But there's still a lot of racing to be done and we're certainly aware of that and obviously not taking anything for granted.
You've learned things the hard way, perhaps a graduate of the school of hard knocks? "You could say that. As a kid, growing up playing sports, I always wanted to be the best at whatever I was doing. In my racing career, though, I don't know how many times, within the last three years, that I was in a situation where I could even think about a championship. It's exciting, that's for sure. And when you're up front, it makes it that much more exciting and special. "I don't think I would use the word 'struggle' to describe my racing career, but it's been one slow step at a time. Even when I was fortunate enough to get into Winston Cup, my rookie year, I started late in the season in '87 and I'm racing against Davey Allison for rookie of the year honors. I knew it was a learning time and I was gaining much needed experience. I knew the amount of experience I had in a car was very limited. Some people might think that I started racing when I was five or six years old. Far from that - I was 20 years old before I ever drove a race car. It's been a slow process to where I've gotten to today, but I wouldn't change one thing. So to be racing for a championship, that's what I've wanted. That's why everyone else is out there racing - to represent this sport as its champion."