This Week in Ford Racing NASCAR Winston Cup Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, swept both poles at Dover Downs International Speedway last season, and went on to finish fifth in last year's MBNA Platinum 400, the site of this...
This Week in Ford Racing
NASCAR Winston Cup
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, swept both poles at Dover Downs International Speedway last season, and went on to finish fifth in last year's MBNA Platinum 400, the site of this weekend's 13th race of the season. Jarrett and his crew chief, Todd Parrott, were this week's guests on the NASCAR Winston Cup teleconference.
TODD PARROTT, Crew Chief-88-UPS Taurus
WHAT ARE THE AREAS THAT YOU THINK YOU NEED TO WORK ON TO GET THE PRESSURE OFF OF YOU AND TO GET THIS TEAM BACK TO ITS WINNING FORM?
"Like I said, I just think I need to move some roles around a little bit, and those sort of things are in the works right now and have been in the works for the past few weeks. We went thorough some hard times the last couple of weeks. We were getting on somewhat of a little roll there after Talladega and California, and we hit those speed bumps that you're going to hit in racing. That's just part of NASCAR that makes our sport exciting. We had some trouble at Richmond and we had some trouble in The Winston. None of that was on our part, this is a performance-driven sport, and when you're not performing, everybody starts pointing fingers and doing this and doing that, and our performance at Charlotte wasn't great either, so like I said, we've got to make a few changes where I can spend a little more time in different areas and do some things. We have a great race team. We've got a championship-caliber race team believe it or not. Like I said, this is a performance-driven sport and we just haven't had a lot of the racing luck like we've had in the past."
TALK ABOUT DOVER THIS WEEKEND. HOW IS THAT PLACE ON A TEAM, ON A CAR AND ON A DRIVER?
"Dover is a tough place. The track has a lot of grip on it and the g-forces in the corner, obviously, there's a lot there. You have to have a car that is really free from the center out, but not too free. Your car has to turn really well, and fortunately, we were lucky to go up there - the last race up there in September - and we sat on the pole and had a really good race car. We weren't as great in the race as what we were in qualifying, but Dover is a place that Dale likes, that we like as a team. We've had a lot of success there, won some races there and look forward to going to Dover."
WITH ALL OF THE INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO YOU, IS THERE EVER A TIME WHEN YOU FEEL YOU HAVE TOO MUCH INFORMATION, AND IS THAT A DIFFICULT SITUATION?
"It's real difficult. With the technology that the sport has gone, the different areas, the aero, the chassis development, the tires, the shocks, it's real hard. You have to trust your people and have really good people in all those positions. A crew chief, unfortunately, can't, I don't think that there's one out there that will say that they can get their hands on every little part of it and still have any sort of life after seven or eight o'clock at night. It's tough and you just have to work and be better."
HAVE YOU EVER SAID, "THAT'S IT, AND WE'RE GOING BACK TO A BASELINE"?
"Oh yeah. You look at that all the time. With the kind of luck that we've had lately, you start looking in the mirror and say, 'Man, do we just need to go back to basics and take some of this out of the equation and not worry so much about it and just worry about the racing part of it?' And like I said, a lot of things go through your mind. You have a lot of different thoughts, a lot of different questions, and with the race schedule as hectic as it is, it's sometimes hard to stop and take a breath and think about things like you need to."
IS IT TOUGH TO KEEP DALE'S SPIRITS UP DURING THIS?
"Like I said, it's a performance-driven sport and Dale's the athlete's athlete. He's highly motivated by performance and he enjoys running well just like I do, and Robert and Doug. And, when you have a few bad races, it's easy to get down on yourself. I try to keep his spirits up, try to keep him lifted up, whether we have a good car or not. I try to at least go into the weekend telling him and getting him pumped up, making him think that we have a good one. When you get there and things aren't going well, it's hard, but it's not like any other sport, you just have to really, really stay focused after what you're looking for and just try to make the best of it."
HAS IT BECOME A SITUATION WHERE YOU FEEL YOU NEED TO GET IN A ROOM AND JUST WANT TO TELL EVERYONE TO "LET ME FIX THIS AND LEAVE ME ALONE FOR EIGHT HOURS"?
"Sometimes I wonder if that's not what needs to happen. You can't do that any more. You have to rely on the people you have working with you and you have to do a lot of things. To be successful in this sport, you have stay focused and you can't let anything slip. You've got to make sure all of your i's are dotted and your t's are crossed. A lot of times I do want to go put myself in a room and just say leave me alone and let me figure this out, but unfortunately, as big as this sport has gotten, it's hard for one person to figure it out on his own anymore. It takes the engine man, the crew chief, the driver, everybody in the shop, the guys building the chassis, the guys hanging the bodies on the car, you just have to be so much on your game right now to be at the top of the sport that it makes it really tough."
COULD IT BE THAT YOU NEED SOMETHING YOU CAN'T FIX - LUCK?
"I would say that is probably something that is pretty big. I feel like we had a pretty decent car in Richmond, the car that we wrecked prior to qualifying. We made some changes and got better, cut a tire down and had some bad luck there. Like I said, we've had a lot of crazy luck happen at a lot of different places. The deal running out of gas at Texas, that's not luck, that was just a miscalculation on my part. There's nothing you can really do about it. A lot of this is luck, don't get me wrong, I'd rather be lucky than good any time."
WITH JIMMY ELLEDGE LEAVING AND DALE JARRETT BEING RUMORED TO BE EXPLORING HIS OPTIONS, HOW MUCH HAS THE SILLY SEASON BEEN A PART OF THE PROBLEMS AT ROBERT YATES RACING THIS YEAR?
"I would say that personnel-wise it's nothing that's going to fix itself overnight. That was a change that we made five or six races ago, and it's just going to take a while to get things back to exactly like everything needs to be. Jimmy is a great crew chief and did a great job while he was here. There were just some areas, some things that weren't going just right, and a change needed to be made. Like I said, I was the one that elected to do the deal. I'm the one that feels bad about it not working because it was my idea. It wasn't going well, like I thought it was going to go, so it was change that we made. It's going to take a few more weeks to get everything back in order. I think that, first of all, you have to get the personnel, you've got to get the people behind you, you've got to get everything right here and then you've got to start working on your race cars."
HOW MUCH DID DALE'S COMMENTS LAST WEEK HELP TO SETTLE THINGS DOWN?
"That's the first that I've heard of it. That shows you how much time I have to read papers and watch the news and do all that sort of stuff. Like I said, Dale has a contract here through 2004, there have been some talks about renegotiating and adding on for an extension. And, I have a contract here also through 2004. I want to win races. Dale Jarrett proved Sunday night that he still has it. He drove his guts out. He drove a terrible driving race car, and when we were running 11th, we made a change. The track cooled off, our car got tighter and we made another adjustment, and the car got really bad loose. I felt like when we were sitting there in 11th with 120 laps, I said, looking down at the monitor at some of the lap times that he was running, I said that we had a car capable of winning the race. He still has it, but we just need to get it all together."