Jarrett Seeks New Beginning With One-Day Kentucky Speedway Test
The No. 88 UPS Ford Robert Yates Racing (RYR) NASCAR Winston Cup Team and driver Dale Jarrett prepared for the upcoming Winston, Coca-Cola 600 and a turnaround to an uncharacteristic season with a one-day test at Kentucky Speedway.
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.