BUSCH: J. Jarrett Phoenix preview

After narrowly missing the field in their return to Rockingham and following up that run with a disappointing attempt in the Busch stand-alone event last week in Memphis, the Rayovac Maximum team is returning to veteran wheelman Hut Stricklin for...

After narrowly missing the field in their return to Rockingham and following up that run with a disappointing attempt in the Busch stand-alone event last week in Memphis, the Rayovac Maximum team is returning to veteran wheelman Hut Stricklin for a little help in the final two events of the season.

Stricklin, who gave the team a boost in relief of Jarrett in Pike's Peak and by running a second Jarrett / Farve entry in Michigan, will pilot the #11 entry in practice and qualifying sessions in both Phoenix and Miami, then give way to Jarrett for Happy Hour and the drop of the green flag.

According to crew chief Ricky Bowman, it came down to a matter of seat time. "Jason has no laps at Phoenix or Miami, and these are tough tracks to get a handle on," he said. "You throw in the Winston Cup drivers in attendance and the fact that, historically, we've struggled at the flat, fast tracks, and we just think that this is the best move to ensure that we get in the race and get Jason the race laps he needs to progress."

Although Jarrett would rather be in the seat right off the truck, he understands the value of the team approach. "As a driver, I'm competitive by nature," Jarrett explained, "However, Hut was a real help to us with his technical advice in Pikes Peak, and the ability to give feedback he can provide quickly comes with a lot of seat time, pure and simple.

"As a first-year team without the luxury of a provisional, we can't afford to turn the 2-hour practice session into a testing session," Jarrett said. "We've got to be fast and getting faster right off the truck so we have a shot at getting this Rayovac team in on the first day. If we can get Hut in on the first day, or in a position to stand on our first-round time, we'll have plenty of time during second round practice and Happy Hour for me to get comfortable running the right line around the track, without the pressure of qualifying. These guys have worked hard all year and I'd like to reward them with a solid run," he added. "But first we have to get into the field."

Eight times during the 2000 season the Jarrett / Favre team has been in the hunt for a provisional and missed the starting grid by one car. The vicious cycle hurt the #11 team again in Memphis, when Justin Labonte earned another provisional by virtue of his qualifying run in Rockingham. When Richard Jarvis' qualifying run in Memphis was disallowed, it was Labonte who snagged the open provisional, with Jarrett sitting right behind him. "It's amazing the number of times we've been edged out for a provisional," Jarrett said. "And when you don't get in, you get even farther behind. Of course, our mission has always been to run well enough that we get in the field on the clock, but a provisional is still a start, and starts equal laps and laps build experience, which is what this team needs."

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Hut Stricklin