Jarrett's new tune: Satisfaction By Marty Smith DOVER, Del., (June 7, 1999) Dale Jarrett knows he has to keep his eye out for Bobby Labonte, seen here behind the No. 88. When a driver is merely "satisfied" with a top-5 run, it is safe...
Jarrett's new tune: Satisfaction By Marty Smith
DOVER, Del., (June 7, 1999) Dale Jarrett knows he has to keep his eye out for Bobby Labonte, seen here behind the No. 88. When a driver is merely "satisfied" with a top-5 run, it is safe to say he has arrived in NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing. If Dale Jarrett continues his string of "satisfactory" top-5 finishes, this may be the season he arrives at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York this January as the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion. Sunday, Jarrett drove to a fifth-place finish at Dover Downs International Speedway, solidifying his position at the top of the series' points standings. He now sits 33 points ahead of second-place Jeff Burton.
"Satisfied? yeah," Jarrett said of his effort Sunday. "We'd certainly like to win, but the Pontiacs are strong, and (race winner) Bobby Labonte did a great job. Tony Stewart was strong. Of course (Jeff) Gordon's always going to be, and Mark (Martin) had a good car. We battled them, but we're pretty happy with what we got."
Jarrett has won just once in 1999 - the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway - but his rise to the top of the series points standings has come on the strength of nine top-5s in 13 races. For Jarrett, consistency -- not occasional victories -- will catapult him to his first career series championship.
Although Jarrett has been strong all year - minus a 37th-place finish at the Daytona 500 in which an early race spinout forced a premature exit - he feels Labonte is the driver to watch at this stage in the season.
"We just keep plugging along," he said. "The 18 (Labonte) is the one that is really strong right now. Maybe we have to look out for him."
As has been the case in nearly every race this year, the No. 88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford team battled past adversity Sunday in order to finish well. Jarrett struggled with an ill-handling car all day, which for a while made the car less than competitive. Even so, he still managed to finish amongst the title contenders.
"That is kind of the story of our season," Jarrett said. "We work hard, and get better toward the end (of a race), but it's just not quite all together. If we keep coming out with top-fives, we'll be OK. It would just be nice to have a day to where we didn't make these adjustments every single stop, and come out on one side or the other where the car would be either too tight or too loose.
"But right now that's not happening. Hopefully we can continue to run in the top-5. I thought we were pretty good when we started the race and were able to run pretty hard right off, so I knew we were going to be a little be too tight. The left front tire really gained a lot air pressure for some reason during that first run, and that really kind of threw us a curve. Then we just had to keep working."
If Jarrett and his Robert Yates Racing teammates get the No. 88 Ford dialed in to perfection, he'll continue the consistency, and visit Victory Lane more often.
"What we would really like is to have the car where we aren't adjusting every 30 laps or every pit stop," Jarrett said. "It would be nice to get the car a little bit closer. But they kept working and working (Sunday) to get what I was looking for. But we made the most of what we had here today. If we'd have had another caution we might have made another adjustment with some spring rubbers and things, but you do what you have to do."
And in NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing, what you have to do is run in the top-5 -- even if it is just satisfactory.
Source: NASCAR Online