Jarrett Eyes Shootout Win

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Dale Jarrett had this Saturday circled on his calendar for most of the off-season. Jarrett returns to Daytona International Speedway as the defending champion of the Budweiser Shootout and a chance for his fourth career win in the season-opening all-star race.

With his past success in the race and recent strong showing in testing at Daytona last month, Jarrett is confident about his chances Saturday night.

"The testing at Daytona went well for us," said Jarrett, who turned the fastest lap of the two "Pre-Season Thunder" sessions held at Daytona. "I'm pleased that some of the things we've worked extremely hard on with these cars have resulted in good numbers at testing. We literally started building our speedway cars back in September of last year and had them in the wind tunnel quite a bit so we feel pretty prepared for what is about to take place the next few weeks in Daytona."

Although not a points race, Jarrett looks at the Shootout as a chance to have some fun, but learn some things that can be applied to the regular season opening Daytona 500 the following week. The Saturday night prime-time event is the perfect opportunity to get the juices flowing.

"The Shootout is always a fun race and it is really an event for the fans," Jarrett said. "I've always said that racing at night makes everything appear to be a little more spectacular. It's fun racing at Daytona at night. The Shootout is the perfect race to have at night because it is such a spectacle. It's just about winning. It doesn't matter where else you finish in this race."

His win in the 2004 version of the Shootout was a classic case at being in the right place at the right time.

"Obviously, we didn’t have the fastest car in that race last year but I was able to put our car in front of what was probably the fastest car at the end which was Dale (Earnhardt) Jr’s car," he said. "So that helped us win that race. The win certainly was great considering the year we’d had in 2003 so it was a great confidence booster for the team. It wasn’t an indicator of how we would perform at the beginning of last season but it was a great mood lifter for the UPS Team."

An even better way to lift the spirits of the Robert Yates Racing team would be for Jarrett to return to victory lane in the following week's Daytona 500. And although there are some things to take from Saturday night's all-star opener, Jarrett isn't putting too much stock in how the competition will carry over to the 500.

"I think that the Shootout gives you an idea as to what to expect from the usual suspects but it isn’t necessarily a precursor for who will win the Daytona 500," Jarrett said.

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