Dallas: Ford Racing - Dale Jarrett

Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, held a Q&A session in the Lowe's Motor Speedway infield media center after NASCAR Winston Cup practice to address the issue of concussions. DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus "I wanted to clarify ...

Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, held a Q&A session in the Lowe's Motor Speedway infield media center after NASCAR Winston Cup practice to address the issue of concussions.

DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus

"I wanted to clarify something. I've seen my name associated a couple of times with the concussion issue with Dale, Jr. Maybe I misread something, but I was under the impression that from the things that I said, that someone gathered I wasn't cleared and maybe shouldn't have been racing after Kansas City last year. I had to have medical clearance. I was told before I came to this race track that I had to be cleared by a doctor before I could show up at this facility, so there wasn't anytime that I felt I wasn't ready to be here. Did it affect my thinking -- and I said this from the beginning, but, obviously, not everything gets put down the way you say it -- but it didn't have anything to do with my thinking or my ability to drive a race car. It affected me in other ways to where I was tired, lethargic, but it didn't have anything to do with me driving a race car. It affected my workout program more than it did anything else, and my ability to recover from Sunday races of being tired and worn out -- it took longer to do that. But I did have to have medical clearance, so I just wanted to get that straight because I'd seen my name associated with not having to have medical clearance before I could get back in the car here after Kansas City. That didn't change the fact that I didn't remember anything about Kansas City, but I could tell you everything about what led up to the race week here at Charlotte and about that race week. That's basically what I wanted to say because I don't feel that I was being quoted properly. Maybe it wasn't even quotes, it was just that my story wasn't being represented properly, but I did have to have medical clearance and I got that. Then NASCAR allowed me to be here and perform last October here at Charlotte."

WHAT'S THE PROCESS FOR MEDICAL CLEARANCE?

"Someone from NASCAR was in touch with me. I didn't talk to them myself on Monday because I was with doctors and was basically resting. That's what I was told I needed to do. I didn't want to do anything else anyway, so it was a good thing that's what they told me to do. But there was a representative from NASCAR that contacted my office and gave a number for me to call back. When I did that on Tuesday, that's when I was told I had to have medical clearance. I was working with doctors already and, once we got that, I wasn't able just to call back and say, 'I've got clearance from a doctor.' They had to get the report before I could show up here and they got that."

STERLING SAID HE'D LIKE TO SEE A RULE WHERE MAYBE A SUB COULD GET IN FOR TWO RACES AND HE DOESN'T LOSE POINTS.

"That's certainly an idea. The unique thing about our sport, and I guess the downside of it, is that even though this is certainly a team sport in all ways and all aspects, the problem we have with the championship is that it's based on driver points. That's what you're looking to do and we don't have a backup plan. It's not like a football or baseball team, where they've got someone they can put into that slot. That's definitely and idea, especially now that we have this many races and, certainly, it would probably be in the best interest of everyone if that were the situation and the case that someone needed that. I think it's definitely something that should be reviewed and taken a look at."

WAS YOUR ADVICE TO DALE, JR. MISCHARACTERIZED AS WELL?

"I never suggested to him (Dale, Jr.) that he sit out. What he came to me about was the sort of feelings he had. He had never been through that and wanted to talk to somebody who had been through it. He was kind of getting some reassurance about what he was feeling and even though people are different, that was common with a concussion. When I talked with him, it had been a few weeks after that had happened and it didn't take me that long, so apparently my concussion wasn't maybe as severe as his. So, yeah, that got blown out of proportion. I didn't tell him he needed to sit out. That's not for me to say because I'm not a doctor. I wouldn't tell anybody that because I have no idea. My suggestion to him was simply to make sure he was getting proper medical treatment. There's not a lot they can do for it, but they can advise you as to what to do and that's simply all I told him."

WITH 38 RACES DO YOU HAVE THE TIME YOU NEED TO REST UP?

"That's the difficult part is when you are injured. I think that was the problem for me last year. Whenever I broke the rib here in qualifying, you don't have that chance to really heal up. I think I was fortunate and I attribute the workout program that Doug Kenworthy put me through helped me be able to survive and do all of that. But there's not sufficient time to rest up from a serious injury. You have to be in the car, you know that, so like a lot of other athletes you do that when you would rather not. It's not that you're putting anyone in danger. I think all of us have had that question -- 'Am I putting myself in more danger?' I don't think we do that. When we get that advice, then that's when you sit out. As far as healing up, it obviously takes longer. I was told that, 'if you stay out of the car for three weeks, you'll probably be totally healed and ready to go,' but I couldn't afford to do that. Then they say, 'OK, then it's probably gonna take you between eight and 10 weeks to get totally healed because you're shocking that rib everytime that you get in the race car,' so we had to move testing around and things like that so I wasn't in the car anymore than what I had to be."

OTHER SERIES HAVE PRESEASON SKILLS TESTING. WOULD YOU BE IN FAVOR OF THAT?

"I don't know. I'm not sure how much that does because everybody is a little different in that. I don't know. What are all the factors there? I think in this racing series in particular, we've got a wide range of ages from twenty to forties, so are those skills different because of that. I don't feel like there's anything as far as driving this race car and performing that a 20-year-old can do that I can't do, but that may be a little bit different in some kind of test. They can probably see a little bit better than I can as far as reading the paper today, but, other than that and driving my race car, I can handle all that. But I don't know if that's anything we need. I think we've gotten by a long time with this. I think that the medical side of this is much better than what it has been in the past and there's always gonna be room for improvement. We're gonna run up on situations that we're gonna find looking back on it that maybe we should have done things a little different, but that's easy to say in hindsight about a lot of things."

ARE YOU COMFORTABLE KNOWING THAT YOU'VE RACED WITH GUYS THAT WEREN'T ALL THE WAY BACK?

"I think when they're saying they're not all the way back, I don't think that it's a situation that it's been a danger as far as them being in the race car. They're talking about a situation that they're not back to where they feel like doing all the things that go along with this. I think what they're saying is they just weren't totally themselves, but was it putting themselves or anyone else in danger on the race track? No, they wouldn't get in there if that's the case. I don't know of anybody out here, and I know most of these guys pretty good, I know that someone else would tell them and be able to recognize that. I can probably go on the record and say that every one of them are man enough to say, 'Hey, there's something wrong and I can't do this job good enough because I might hurt myself or someone else.' I don't think anybody has been in there in that case. Are we in there when we're in pain? Yeah, we've been in there when we've been in a lot of pain. I've been in a tremendous amount of pain, but that's not putting anybody else in any danger and it wasn't putting myself in anymore danger. It was just something I had to deal with, so, no, I'm not concerned. If these guys get in the race car out here, I'm pretty sure that they know they're capable of doing their job in there. Now, what it affects away from there, that's a different story. But I think as far as getting in the car, everything is fine."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT JASON RACING IN ARCA AFTER YESTERDAY?

"I'm very comfortable with Jason racing there. Things are gonna happen in whatever level and division you might be in. There's not a division out here or motorsports anywhere at anyplace that doesn't present some kind of danger with it. I know that Jason is very cognizant of his race car and the surroundings of his race car -- making sure that his car is the safest it can be. Yeah, you're gonna see cars out here tonight where guys don't have a lot of experience and are running quite a bit slower, but, again, that comes from knowing who you're racing with. They'll know that as they get out there. I think it's a great series.

"Yesterday was very, very unfortunate and we certainly feel for the family of the young man that was killed here, but, again, things are gonna happen that are beyond our control sometimes. When those things happen, that doesn't make it bad series. I know it's easy to point fingers and start saying things, but I wasn't here and can't really address it. But I do feel comfortable with Jason being there. I talked with him last night and he's very comfortable being there too."

ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH YOUR SAFETY EQUIPMENT, ESPECIALLY AFTER YOUR CONCUSSION?

"I know that I've changed the inside of my some since that. I probably didn't pay enough attention. We ran a net at that time, but looking back at that particular car, the net was right underneath the bar so my helmet was actually hitting that bar before I ever got to that net. The net was keeping me from going outside of the actual window, but it wasn't keeping me from hitting that bar. So my head support now comes inside of that and I now know that my head can't move that much that quickly. As far as Dale, Jr., you're always gonna have situations in crashes that go beyond any of the equipment that you can put in there. You can't make it totally safe in there and things are gonna happen. When you hit the wall at 150 or 160 miles an hour, things can happen. You just have to keep learning from it and I'm sure Dale, Jr. learned something from his. Like I said, right after that race (at Kansas), we came here and I changed the head supports in my car for that very next race. I've continued to make changes with them because each car is different and you have to adapt those to each car, but I feel much better with what I have now than what I had a year ago. So it's just an ongoing process for all of us. We can't ever think that we've learned it all and that our cars are the very safest they can be. You have to keep looking and making sure that you're making adjustments."

-ford racing-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Dale Jarrett