Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, is the last Ford driver to win a race here at Talladega when he won the Winston 500 in 1998. Jarrett spoke about a number of issues, including NASCAR's judgement calls last week in the Busch and ...
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, is the last Ford driver to win a race here at Talladega when he won the Winston 500 in 1998. Jarrett spoke about a number of issues, including NASCAR's judgement calls last week in the Busch and Winston Cup Series races at Texas.
Part 2 of 2
DO YOU THINK DRIVERS UNDERSTAND THE RULE?
"I think that's one case where most people really didn't understand and it's not something that I know NASCAR has ever conversed with us about and sat down and said, 'This is the way this is on a restart.' We talk about it that you can't pass to the left, but we never asked the question, 'What constitutes making a pass?' Do you have to be all the way up besides, by the guy? What do you mean by making a pass?
"Again, the way it was explained to me is it's the intent of making that pass. It would have been nice if we could have covered that before. It probably would have kept some guys out of trouble, but I was fortunate in my case that I saw it happen to someone else. It didn't happen to me, but it raised a question in my mind so I went to NASCAR. I didn't tell the rest of them, that's up to them to find out."
IF SOMEONE SLOWS IN FRONT OF YOU AND YOU DRIVE DOWN, WHETHER YOU'RE ATTEMPTING TO PASS THEM OR AVOID THEM ALTOGETHER, ARE YOU EXPECTING NASCAR TO HOLLER AT YOUR GUYS AND BLACK FLAG YOU?
"That's right. It's your job to look at that guy in front of you. If he's having a problem getting started, you need to do everything that you can do to avoid him. Certainly, putting up your hand to the guy behind you is one way to let everybody know what is going on, but it's up to you not to make that pass. You have to pay attention. A lot of times that's hard. You're trying to get up to speed. A lot of times you're having to look at your tach, so you don't over-rev the engine, so it's hard to look everywhere at once, but that's part of the duties of a driver to do all of that."
SO IT'S LIKE THE YELLOW LINE HERE AT THE RESTRICTOR PLATE TRACKS? AS LONG AS YOU DON'T IMPROVE YOUR POSITION, YOU'RE OK?
"That's right. I've seen cases where guys had a transmission problem or stripped the rear-end gear on a restart and NASCAR takes that into consideration. That's something that was unavoidable, the guy was getting out of the way, but a situation where the guy just spins his tires, that's not one of those situations. Again, you're just at the wrong place at the wrong time."
DO YOU LIKE HAVING DRIVER'S PREROGATIVE FOR THE LEADER?
"I think so. Something we talked about last week too was cars that are on the tail-end of a lead lap having that opportunity to get up there. That makes things a little exciting at times, but I think it's a good thing too. A lot of times, when you're in that situation, it's not that you've run bad and gotten a lap down, it's that you probably just made a pit stop and then, unfortunately, the caution came out and caught you. So, it gives you that opportunity as a driver and as a team to stay out there and get that opportunity to make that lap back, so, yeah, I think we like that.
"The only thing I will say as far as racing back to the caution, I know what's being said is we don't have the technology maybe - I don't know if that's the proper term - but we're not prepared to do that. I don't really know why because they have about 50 officials sitting up there, or however many, and surely somebody can be watching the leader and know who was behind the leader when they throw the caution. You could wait just a second and pick up the leader and say that, so I don't know if we have to have it electronically. We do a lot of things visually just like the calls I was talking about, so it might be time to look at it. Plus, we hear more guys and more arguments this day and time about guys not letting other guys have their lap back.
"I've never had the finger shot at me - well, I can't say so many times because I haven't led that many races - but here lately whenever I have been leading and had that opportunity - I mean, this is racing. I can tell the guys, 'Hey, if you're not my teammate, your chances are pretty slim that you're gonna get a lap back from me.' I just don't understand it. They could save a lot of hard feelings here if they would just say, 'No racing back to the caution.'
WOULD YOU BE IN FAVOR OF REVERTING BACK TO THE LAST LAP?
"No, I don't think that's a good idea. They can pick up that leader. Put somebody in charge of that. 'You're watching the leader all the time. When we say caution, who was in front of him and who was behind him.' It's just a split-second. It can't be that difficult."
DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT? IS THERE SUCH A THING?
"For the gentlemen there is."
ARE YOU A GENTLEMAN?
"I think I am, yeah."
ARE YOU GOING TO RACE TO THE LINE?
"If I'm the leader, that's gonna once again depend on who is behind me. This is a season long championship. I've seen guys get laps back and then they go on and win the race. I think, especially if you're trying to hold a fast car back, as I said, if you're not my teammate, you've got to be a pretty good friend and the circumstances be that I feel like on that day that I've got a pretty good chance of beating him.
"But, again, I think they could solve a lot of hard feelings if they would just go on and say we're not gonna race back anymore. I was telling my guys the other day at Texas when we had been in a couple of accidents, I had to race Ryan Newman back that one time. I was fortunate that he slowed down. My spotter was hollering, 'The frontstretch is blocked.' But you've got to race back to the line.
"I mean, that's not a lot of fun, but you've got to do it. That would have kept me a lap down at that time, but there would be other times it would benefit me, too."
IF THEY SAID NO RACING BACK TO THE LINE, WHAT DO YOU DO IF IT'S IN THAT FIVE LAP WINDOW AND IT'S FOR THE WIN OR FOR POSITION?
"I'm sure that's more of what they're talking about is being able to look at where each and every car is and it get down to a situation like that. More probably than racing a lapped car back, it's probably a situation late in the race to where they can't maybe at this point in time account for where each car is on the track and did they hold their position. I'm probably being a little hard on them. It's not as easy as it seems, it never is, but that's probably a situation they have to cover before we could go to something like that."
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN MAD AT NOT GETTING A LAP BACK?
"No. I don't expect anybody to do that. I appreciate it when guys have and I think it's simply because there have been times that I've helped them. If I help someone, I'm really not looking for something in return. If that opportunity comes and you can do that, that's good. But there's nobody out here that I expect that from. If Elliott would have lapped me last week like he was getting ready to do before a caution came out, I would have understood that. That's not a problem. I need to run better and not get myself in that position. I'm not looking for anything from anybody out here."
WOULD YOU RATHER NOT OWE ANYBODY ANYTHING?
"Yeah, that's a lot easier situation if you don't. I understand there are teammate things. You talk about the Roush cars, they have a lot of cars they have to look at letting back. That's a different situation. I just have one teammate to worry about, but there are probably a couple of other guys that I would look at that in the past have helped me and I've helped them. We just have to be in the right situation. There again, they could eliminate all of that if we could get that proper technology."