Jarrett Seeks New Beginning
May 13, 2003 | 12:00 A.M. EST
The 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup champion has driven to seven consecutive top-10 series points finishes, but finds himself in unfamiliar territory at 23rd in the series standings 11 weeks into the 2003 season.
Jarrett followed his season-opening 10th-place finish at Daytona with a win at Rockingham, but has failed to crack the top-10 since, averaging a 26th -place finish through the past nine events.
Last week, RYR named Shawn Parker crew chief and Jason Burdett car chief in an attempt to bolster the performance of the No. 88 through the remaining two-thirds of the Winston Cup schedule. Parker was serving as Elliot Sadler's car chief and Burdett, who worked with the No. 88 in 1999 and 2000, returns from Hendrick Motorsports after working with both Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson during the past two seasons.
Jarrett viewed his Kentucky test as one of the first steps toward a new beginning to his season.
"It does seem like everything is different. Hopefully, it's a new beginning because these last eight or nine weeks haven't been very good," Jarrett said. "Sometimes change is necessary. I like the direction we're going with these young guys and the engineering staff that we have now. Robert (Yates) has really taken the lead with our aero department and I like that. Hopefully, all of those things will translate into some good runs."
The new RYR brain trust tested two cars at Kentucky, one of which will be on the track at Charlotte in The Winston. The team also documented aero performance notes for the upcoming Coca-Cola 600 to be held at Charlotte in two weeks.
"One of the cars is the car that we'll run in The Winston. We've done some changes with it aero wise and wanted to make sure it drove okay," Jarrett said. "The other car was strictly an aero test. We did very little chassis stuff. We've already been to Charlotte to test it, so we know chassis wise the direction to go.
"We had some aero issues that we needed to get taken care of. It's not necessarily coming here to see how fast you can run, it's about coming here, being consistent, making changes and knowing in our minds which direction we have to go," he said.
DJ looks for first win in The Winston
"Nobody remembers who finishes second in that race except the drivers. You get excited just thinking about it. It's just such an exciting event. You know it's made up of winners and it's just fun. There's nothing involved except trying to win, the prestige of winning it, and the trophy. The biggest thing is trying to get that respect and that knowledge of winning the Winston." --Dale Jarrett on The Winston
The Winston is Fast, Furious Fun . . . Throughout his 17 years in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, Dale Jarrett has accomplished a lot from winning the 1999 Winston Cup Championship to winning three Daytona 500s. He is one of only two drivers to have multiple wins in the prestigious Brickyard 400 at historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He has wins on NASCAR's short tracks, intermediate tracks and big tracks. Throughout his career, one thing has eluded him and that is a win in NASCAR's "all-star" race -- The Winston.
"It's a Saturday night shootout," Jarrett said. "It's where we all came from. It takes us back to our beginnings -- our roots in the sport because we all started racing on a Friday or Saturday night. This is a wild night and the wildest of Saturday nights anywhere. The fans have been there all weekend and getting prepared. The race doesn't start until 9 o'clock Saturday night and everybody is just keyed up. It is the race of winners and it's just truly exciting."
Although Jarrett, has yet to score a win in The Winston, he has come close enough on a couple of occasions to offer the following on what it takes to win.
"I think you have to use a combination of aggressiveness and patience," Jarrett explained. "There's an aggressive side that has to come out. From the veteran standpoint you have to know when to use that and what's going to be the best scenario to use that. You have to get yourself in position correctly and at the right time in order to have a chance to win."