Conover, NC (July 18, 2000) - Jarrett / Favre Motorsports announced today that driver Jason Jarrett has decided to step aside for a three-race stint in favor of veteran wheelman Hut Stricklin, starting this weekend with the Busch Series event in...
Conover, NC (July 18, 2000) - Jarrett / Favre Motorsports announced today that driver Jason Jarrett has decided to step aside for a three-race stint in favor of veteran wheelman Hut Stricklin, starting this weekend with the Busch Series event in Pike's Peak, CO.
Following an impressive debut in Daytona, where Jarrett qualified 25th and finished 17th, the Rayovac Maximum team has struggled over the first half of the season. After Jarrett narrowly missed the field this past weekend in Nazareth, PA, he felt that action on his part was necessary to help the team move forward.
"I'm in a unique situation here at Jarrett / Favre as the driver of a family-owned team," Jarrett said. "But, I'm not just the driver. I have a leadership role that I take very seriously, and I have a responsibility to do what's best for this team, even if it means giving up the driver's seat.
"We have an excellent sponsor in Rayovac, and they've been extremely patient and supportive," he continued. "Off-track we've developed a strong relationship and I'd like that to extend to the team's performance on Saturday.
Don't get me wrong," Jarrett explained. "No driver ever wants to step aside and this is the toughest choice that I've ever had to make in my career, but the decision has been mine. As a driver, I'm competitive by nature," he said. "But, we have not been able to turn the corner this season, and it's possible that a veteran driver like Hut might be able to take this team to the next level."
Former Jarrett / Favre shop chief Ricky Bowman took over crew chief duties at Watkins Glen following the departure of Wes Ward, and was named to that post permanently prior to Nazareth.
"Jason is an intelligent, hard-working driver with the ability to excel at this level, given the appropriate amount of seat time," Bowman said. "This is our first full season in the Busch Series, and we've struggled with our chassis set-up since the second race in Rockingham," he offered. "You add a young driver, in his first full season at this level, to the continual changes we've experienced this year and it's tough for a new team to find the foundation necessary to gel and grow."
As a Jarrett family patriarch and team owner, Ned Jarrett views the move as a positive step in the development of Jason as a driver. "I'm proud of the way Jason has handled this entire situation since Daytona," the NASCAR Hall of Famer said.
"We came to a crossroads with this team that coincided with the availability of a veteran driver like Hut Stricklin," Jarrett explained. "We are fortunate enough to have a young driver in Jason who is willing to learn," he said, "and an experienced driver in Hut that has a considerable number of Busch and Winston Cup starts and technical expertise as a crew chief and car-builder."
The 39-year old Stricklin has a pair of top-10 finishes in 9 Busch Series starts this season, including a 6th-place run at Talladega. The Alabama native put his first two Busch Series poles together in unique back-to-back fashion; ending 1999 atop the qualifying board in Homestead and following that run by leading the field to the line at Daytona in 2000.
"Naturally, I'm thrilled to be a part of a team with this kind of ownership group and heritage," Stricklin said. "With the program and crew they've assembled this season, I feel optimistic about the opportunity I have to help this team get to the next level," he added. "And for Jason to make the kind of decision he made really goes to show you what kind of individual I'm working with and his commitment to both this team and his career as a driver."