Iracingone On One:/I Dale Jarrett

(Dale Jarrett was the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup champion. He has spent the past five years driving the No. 88 Ford, and the past six years driving for Robert Yates Racing. During his Winston Cup career, Jarrett has posted 24 victories and has finished third or better in the championship standings four times. This season, he finished fourth in the points).

RacingOne: Bobby Labonte says he anticipates defending a championship being much tougher than winning one. You’ve experienced both, so what are your thoughts on that?

Jarrett: I don’t know that one is going to be tougher than the other. It’s always hard to know what to do to win the first one, and to try to accomplish what you have already done is difficult, too. Whether you’ve won or not, it’s still difficult. Dale Earnhardt has seven and he’s finding it very difficult to win the eighth.

RacingOne: Bobby had a season where he didn’t finish worse than 21st, and had no DNFs. Just how tough is that to do in Winston Cup racing these days, to be that consistent?

Jarrett: Being consistent is what it’s about. That’s what we were last year, and that’s what Bobby did this year. It’s hard to do. It takes tremendous preparation and a lot of good luck to make that happen. You have to have all of that to have a season like Bobby had.

RacingOne: When did you first realize you weren’t going to be able to repeat as champion?

Jarrett: I’m really not sure when that was. It’s disappointing when you realize you’re not going to win, but we had races to run after that and just kept trying to win races. It’s not the end of the world. We’re going to have another season, and seasons after 2001. We’ll just have to keep working hard.

RacingOne: Is there any extra determination now that someone else has the title?

Jarrett: We’re as determined as we’ve ever been and working as hard as we ever had. You just hope that the things that took place in the year 2000 are behind us and we can stay away from the difficult times and improve on what we did.

RacingOne: Your son Jason has had a difficult time getting his Busch Series career jump-started. How painful is it for you to see your son go through something like this?

Jarrett: It’s been tough to watch Jason. It’s been difficult for him, but the Busch Series is harder than it’s ever been. It’s bad timing on his part, unfortunately, for when he’s trying to get his career started. We’re not sure what’s going to take place with Jason next year. We just have to get him some experience in racing, and it probably will not be the Busch Series. But it’s difficult because you always want things to be easy for your children.

RacingOne: Jason has expressed a desire and determination to make it in racing, and you and the family certainly believe he has what it takes. What’s it going to take for him to get to that next level?

Jarrett: I don’t know what it’s going to take for him to move on. Looking back on it now, it’s probably a case where we pushed him to the Busch Series maybe a little too soon. And it’s easy to look back and say that. But we thought because of the Busch team that we had we were doing him a good service there to put him in good equipment and get him started in that. But looking back, he should have spent more time racing the short tracks, learning to race a little bit more. Unfortunately, we can’t go back and take that back, so he’s just going to have to go at his pace. Where that leads him to we’ll just have to see in the future. Every driver has been through difficult times. I went through it. Everybody has been through times where they wondered what was going to happen, and could you move to that next level. Some drivers get the opportunity to do that. Others don’t. It’s just a time you have to test your faith more than anything, and you have to really rely on that. The ones that have that faith are the ones that usually get through those difficult times.

RacingOne: You’re fairly well known as one of the top golfers on the racing circuit. Do you still get a chance to get out and play a little, or has your schedule not allowed you that luxury?

Jarrett: My golf game is OK. I haven’t played a lot. And during the offseason it’s going to be a matter of staying home some, but we are planning on testing quite a bit because we feel there are some areas that we need to get a lot better in before we get started in 2001.

RacingOne: It seems everybody’s got an opinion on it, so what’s your take on what’s going on with the presidential election?

Jarrett: My opinion on the election is that it’s ridiculous. They had a count and they should have gone with that. As far as I’m concerned, George Bush should be the president right now.

RacingOne: In your opinion, what’s right and what’s wrong with NASCAR racing right now?

Jarrett: There are a lot of good things happening with NASCAR right now. We just have to make sure that the one thing that we all do is continue the good racing and give the fans what they want to see. I don’t make the rules. This is entertainment. NASCAR does a good job in making the rules as fair as they possibly can for everyone, and again, the biggest thing that we can do is treat the fans to good racing.

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