Dale Jarrett and UPS Team Ready for Talladega CHARLOTTE, N.C. (April 20, 2004) --- The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series travels to the largest track on the circuit with the running of this weekend's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. It is a place...
Dale Jarrett and UPS Team Ready for Talladega
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (April 20, 2004) --- The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series travels to the largest track on the circuit with the running of this weekend's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. It is a place where Dale Jarrett and the UPS Racing Team have enjoyed moderate success together since the birth of the No. 88 Robert Yates Racing Team in 1996. On his own, Jarrett has one win at Talladega in addition to nine top fives and 13 top 10s.
Drafting and restrictor-plates come into play for the second time in the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season. The UPS Racing Team hopes to take advantage of the success by the Robert Yates Racing organization during Speed Weeks in Daytona in February. Jarrett picked up a win in the Budweiser Shootout while his teammate Elliott Sadler won one of the Twin 125 events. Both drivers also finished in the top 10 in the Daytona 500 with Jarrett finishing 10th and Sadler finishing seventh.
Dale Jarrett Discusses Racing at Talladega
Restrictor-plate racing is tough because there is a lot that can happen that is out of the driver's hands. What kind of approach do you take to races at tracks like Talladega and Daytona?
"I think the important thing to do, especially at tracks like Talladega and Daytona, is to pace myself because I don't want to get myself in a position that could create problems early in the race because it is 500 miles. We saw in February how the field did get strung out because some cars out there didn't seem to have a handle on things quite as well after running 15 to 20 laps. I'll probably do what I have done in the past and that is to settle in during the first three-quarters or event two-thirds of the race and just try to hold where I am running when I can. Ideally with about 25 laps to go I'd like to start making my move to the front and get myself in position for the final five laps and to get the car to the lead at that time."
A lot is made about the draft and being able to use that to one's advantage. Some guys are smarter about that than others and you seem to be one of those guys. Is that from practice or just paying attention?
"I'd say both. It takes practice but you have to know what it is you're doing too. There are ways of slowing cars down that you're racing up against. That's why you see people pull over against other people or getting really closed up. There's stuff you can do with air and there are ways you can affect other cars without hitting them. I know people have heard me say this before but I learned that by paying attention to a guy that I considered the best at using the draft and that was Dale Earnhardt. He was really able to figure the draft out before anyone else would and if you just paid attention to what Dale was doing, then you could learn a lot in a short period of time. Dale, Jr., is a lot like his dad in that respect because he is one of the guys that I would consider to know what to look for and to do in the draft."
What is the key to winning a restrictor-plate race?
"Obviously you have to have a good enough car to draft with and to be near the front. You have to have a lot of patience, but, more than anything else, it's all about positioning yourself towards the end of the race because you could race up front for 470 miles and it won't make a difference if you aren't there for those last 30 miles -- which is when I concentrate on getting myself on position. You want to be in that lead draft and depending on where you are in that lead draft, a lot of different scenarios can play out. If you're in the lead and depending on your situation you can't look around enough to make sure you are covering all of your bases and that you're not going to let the cars behind yet get the run to get by you. You're trying not only to think for yourself but think for the guys behind you and what the may be planning. If you're in the middle of the pack you're trying to figure out your best plan of attack to get your car to the lead on the final couple laps."
The UPS Racing Team will be superspeedway Chassis No. 6 during this weekend's Aaron's 499 at Talladega. Chassis 6 is the same car Jarrett and the team won the Budweiser Shootout with at Daytona International Speedway in February. Jarrett started the event from 15th before leading the final lap of the race to pick up the win.
Notes of Interest
* Jarrett's one win at Talladega was in 1998 when he won the track's fall event. It was the Winston 500, and as Jarrett was part of the Winston No Bull 5 program for that race he also picked up a cool $1 million bonus.
* Jarrett joined the newly formed No. 88 Robert Yates Racing Team in 1996. Since 1996, Jarrett and the No. 88 team have combined for six top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 16 starts.
* Jarrett has led 15 different events at Talladega for a total of 223 laps.
* The No. 88 UPS Racing Team spent Tuesday testing at Kentucky Speedway and will travel back to the northern Kentucky track for two more days of testing following this weekend's race at Talladega. The team is trying out various set-up combinations as well as performing motor tests for the engine department.