Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, will be hosting University of Texas men's basketball coach Rick Barnes for tomorrow's Samsung/Radio Shack 500. Barnes, who, like Jarrett, is a native of Hickory, NC, will be attending the...
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, will be hosting University of Texas men's basketball coach Rick Barnes for tomorrow's Samsung/Radio Shack 500. Barnes, who, like Jarrett, is a native of Hickory, NC, will be attending the Final Four today in San Antonio.
DALE JARRETT - No. 88 UPS Taurus
COACH BARNES IS GOING TO BE YOUR GUEST TOMORROW? "Yeah, unfortunately he's not competing in San Antonio. He's down there today, but will be coming in here tomorrow with his son and someone within his athletic department. I don't think he's ever been to a race. I know he certainly hasn't been here to Texas, but he was good enough last year to give us some tickets to the Final Four in New Orleans that they were a part of and we went down for that. We were hoping to go to San Antonio and he offered it to us, but we decided to stay here this weekend. Rick is from Hickory and went to Hickory High School and attended Lenoir-Rhyne College, so everybody in Hickory is very proud of what he's done and accomplished. He's become a good friend so I'll be glad to have him here and help cheer us on tomorrow."
DID YOU KNOW HIM GROWING UP IN THE HICKORY AREA? "No, I really didn't know him when we were growing up. He's a little younger than I am, but we got to know each other when he was coaching at Clemson. Now when he comes back home he'll stop by and see us, so he's really taken an interest in racing and follows it a lot more. He's really just a nice guy and a good friend."
IT WOULD BE NICE TO GIVE HIM A VICTORY TOMORROW, RIGHT? "Yeah, that would be nice. He was asking about what we do after a race and whether or not we hang out, but I told him we usually head right back home. Hopefully, we're gonna be hanging out in victory lane and the press box after it's all over, so he kind of liked that idea. That would be a nice payback for what he's done for me."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR PROSPECTS FOR WINNING? "I feel good. We've competed well all year. I think each race we've had a car capable of running in the top 10, but the finishes don't show that. We just have to put it all together and this is a race track where I think we can. We've run well each of the seven years we've been here and it's the type of race track that really kind of suits our program."
YOU OFTEN TALK ABOUT BEING ABLE TO "RACE YOUR RACE" WHEN YOU START UP FRONT. WILL THAT BE THE CASE TOMORROW STARTING 11TH? "Yeah, we'll let things get spread out and let some rubber on the race track. By starting 11th it does allow me to run the race that I want to, instead of it being dictated to you. If you're in the back or in the middle, you've got to run hard because at this place if you're out front in that clean air, the leaders can come in a hurry. So being 11th lets me go the way that I want to and if that means the car is really good at the beginning, then I'll go hard and try to go towards the front. If it's not exactly what I want, then I'll take it and wait until we get to that first pit stop and make adjustments, but I think we're gonna have a really good shot."
IT WOULD BE NICE NOT TO HAVE ANY BAD LUCK THIS WEEK. "Yeah, that would be nice. I don't talk about bad luck because I've never really put any stock in having bad luck. But most of the things that have happened to us this year have been bad luck, but we'll work from that. We've put ourselves in a little bit of a hole as far as the points, but it's certainly nothing that we can't overcome in 20 races."
Another Ford driver who will be hosting a member of the sporting world tomorrow is Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus. Sadler met Tommy Maddox, quarterback of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, earlier this week while playing golf.
ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus
"Tommy Maddox came out yesterday and helped me out with qualifying and hung out with us all day long. It's pretty cool how we met. I came in Thursday to go play some golf around here and when I walked in I said, 'Man, that guy looks familiar.' He said something to me and then we just played golf together. He actually shot a 69, so he's a great athlete off the football field also. He's one of the nicest guys I've ever met. To be in pro sports and be as nice and genuine as he is was pretty cool. He wasn't able to get tickets to the race and couldn't get anybody to help him with pit passes and stuff like that, so we kind of set him up and got it to where him and his brother were involved with us yesterday. They were hanging out and listening to us on the radio and they're definitely coming back Sunday to enjoy the race, so, hopefully, it'll be a good day for everybody."
YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOU'RE GOING TO MEET FROM DAY TO DAY. "Yeah, when I saw him I knew exactly who he was and when he introduced himself to me I was like, 'Man, I'm a big fan, but you all are crazy to stand in the pocket as long as you do and have those big guys come running after you.' It was pretty neat. We were sharing a lot of stories between sports and talking about our schedules. Their schedule is just as bad as ours, but, to me, for him to be as nice as he was, I'm definitely gonna keep up with him now and be a big fan of his."
COULD HE BE A GOOD LUCK CHARM? "I actually feel pretty good and I've already told him that he might be our good luck charm, but he said he's got to check in on April 12 to start practice. I was thinking, 'Man, that's got to hurt your golf game to have to go to practice that early.' But we'll see what happens. I definitely feel like I've made a friend for life and we're gonna keep in touch. Hopefully, I'll get to go to a few Pittsburgh Steelers games this year in the off season and I told him that next year he definitely needs to come to the first Bristol race since their off and some other races that are pretty cool, so we'll see what happens."
HOW DOES THE CAR FEEL AFTER THE FIRST PRACTICE? "I think it's pretty good, I really do. I've had some great cars here in the past and just need some luck to go with it. We just want to get a top 10 because we know if we keep getting top 10s over and over or stay around that mark that we're gonna be where we need to be after the 26th race. That's our goal as we go to bed tonight and that's what it will be tomorrow."