NASCAR Notebook: Dad thinks Dale Jarrett leaving at right time
The NASCAR notebook …
CONCORD ó Dale Jarrett was behind the wheel for the final time in his storied career Saturday night in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. His father, Ned, a two-time Cup champion, thinks his son is retiring at the right time.
“I would hate to see him hang on for four or five more years or whatever the case might be,” the elder Jarrett said. “People have a tendency to remember you for the last thing you did. I want people to remember him as a champion and a winner in racing. If you hang on too long, sometimes people lose track of that.”
Dale Jarrett won 32 races, including three Daytona 500s. The 51-year-old star won the points championship in 1999, but hasn’t been a contender in recent years. He was honored before the race with a video tribute.
Jarrett will be ESPN’s lead analyst for its Sprint Cup races, again following his father, a longtime TV commentator. Ned Jarrett thinks that will help the withdrawal symptoms that come with leaving the sport.
“He’s had a great career and I think it’s time,” Ned Jarrett said. “He’s going out on his own terms, and I think that’s good. But also it’s good to see him going into another career in broadcasting, sort of following in my footsteps. All of that makes me proud.”
NO DRESS CODE: Maybe the clothes are the key to Kyle Busch’s success.
Busch, the Sprint Cup points leader, has won three times this season and was on the pole for the All-Star race. With eight wins in 2008 in NASCAR’s top three series, Busch is clearly relishing his move from Hendrick Motorsports to Joe Gibbs Racing this season.
“It flows easier. It’s an easier complex for me to get along with everybody,” Busch said. “It’s kind of more laid back for me. It’s no black dress pants, white shirt tucked in, hair done well, shaved, all that stuff. Joe Gibbs Racing is just jeans and a T-shirt, your Vans shoes or whatever you want to wear. It’s more my style and they let you be yourself.”
Ditching Hendrick’s dress code isn’t the only reason Busch is relaxed. He also has clearly clicked with crew chief Steve Addington.
“I think the biggest thing is, he listens to me and I listen to him,” Busch said.
JUNIOR’S EVERYWHERE: When it comes to flags, T-shirts and hats, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has no match in the campgrounds and parking lots surrounding Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
No. 88 flags ó and a few red No. 8 flags left over from Earnhardt’s old team ó were flying next to dozens of campers in the large campgrounds near the track on Saturday.
“Yeah!” yelled out one Junior fan when she came across a group of people wearing No. 88 gear walking in the opposite direction.
Earnhardt’s late father remains a dominant symbol, too. No. 3 flags outnumbered most of the other drivers, including Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. There was not one Kyle Busch flag or T-shirt spotted.-
DOUGNUTS: Greg Biffle was deemed king of the burnout ó and the best at following directions.
The first Pennzoil Victory Challenge pitted Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch in a burnout and doughnut competition on the front stretch of Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
The rules called for drivers to first do a smoky burnout, then at least two doughnuts.
It didn’t work out that way.
There were numerous rules infractions. Johnson knocked over cones and several drivers blew out tires. Harvick intentionally bumped the wall and sent smoke into the stands. Buschgot out of his car early and bowed to the booing fans.
“I tried to hit every obstacle they set out for us and blow both rear tires to get the fans excited,” said Johnson after collecting the most penalties. “This is really for the fans.”
Biffle won, collecting $10,000 to donate to his charity, which supports animal shelters.
“It was a lot of fun,” Biffle said. “You had to follow instructions. That was important. … I think Jimmie missed the memo on what the drill was. But it was funny to watch.”