DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 16, 2008) – The 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 17 will be a historic moment in the history of Daytona International Speedway and NASCAR.
But it will also be a big moment in the career of three-time Daytona 500 winner Dale Jarrett.
Jarrett, who drives the No. 44 UPS Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing, will be making his 20th and final start in “The Great American Race.”
The Hickory, N.C., driver is running only six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 2008 before hanging up his race helmet.
At this point during Preseason Thunder testing, the thought of his final Daytona 500 start is not hard for Jarrett to think about. But come race day of the Daytona 500, his emotions might be different.
“Right now, it’s not that difficult,” Jarrett said. “Feb. 17, it may be a lot more difficult that day. I’ve come to grips with it. I’ve had a wonderful career. When I dreamed about driving these race cars and possibly being successful at it, I’ve exceeded all those dreams because of a lot of really good people.
“I’ve been very fortunate. My time has come to move aside and move on to whatever else this is going to take me to do. I’m OK with it. Hopefully, it’ll still be that way. Being able to finish well and run well in the 500 would make it that much more enjoyable.”
In his three Daytona 500 wins, Jarrett held off the legendary Dale Earnhardt twice in 1993 and 1996 and then made a late-race winning pass on Johnny Benson in 2000.
For Jarrett, the thought of being able to hoist the gold Harley J. Earl trophy as the winner of the 50th running of the Daytona 500 next month would be a dream come true.
“My last Daytona 500, that would be perfect,” Jarrett said. “Those are storybook endings and we know those don’t happen a lot.”
Testing wraps up: With the possibility of rain moving over the Speedway in the afternoon, the second wave of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams worked through lunch on the final day of Daytona 500 testing.
style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt; text-indent: 0.5in; line-height: 150%">The rain never came and the final day of the three-day session wrapped up early at 4 p.m.
The fastest of the day on Wednesday was Kasey Kahne with a speed of 189.111 mph followed by Denny Hamlin (188.818), Dario Franchitti (188.723), Regan Smith (188.667) and Ryan Newman (188.584).
Overall the fastest driver for all six days of Daytona 500 testing in single-car runs was new Hendrick Motorsports driver and 2004 Daytona 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. with a speed of 185.820 mph in the No. 88 Chevrolet.
Toyota proved their going to be strong in their second year in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition by placing five drivers in the top-six spots in cumulative single-car testing speeds led by second fastest overall Dave Blaney at 185.445 mph and third fastest overall Michael Waltrip at 185.357.
Kahne enjoys Budweiser colors: Kasey Kahne was able to break out the Budweiser colors for the first time at Daytona International Speedway during this week’s three-day test.
Budweiser joins Kahne and Gillett-Evernham Motorsports as the primary sponsor on the No. 9 Dodge beginning this season after serving as the long-time primary sponsor for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“I was kind of excited to get in the car with Budweiser on it,” Kahne said. “It’s 2008 and we were able to have a good test. We went fast at times. I feel like it’s a good starting point. I’m excited that we were here, that we’re done and now we can get prepared for the 500.
“We had a good three days. We learned some things, got faster, felt like we drafted well. We’ll come back with more power and if we do that, we’ll be pretty decent.”
Quotable: Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge, on the 50th running of the Daytona 500: “It would be special to win at all in any part of Speedweeks. The 50th one is obviously pretty big. I was around for NASCAR’s 50th, not Daytona’s 50th, and I saw how much emphais went into that. Iv’e got an idea how special it is. To be here and be a part of it … ten years ago I was sitting in Segrave section watching the cars go by, drop of the green flag and sneaking into the garage. Now to be here for the 50th, that would be definetly cool (to win it).”
The auction started Monday, Jan. 7 and will run through Sunday, Jan. 20 at 5 p.m. Available to bid on are many autograph items from drivers and stars such as Nicolas Cage, Kelly Clarkson, Big and Rich, Jeff Gordon, Michael Waltrip, Buddy Baker, Pete Hamilton and Jimmie Johnson.
NASCAR Nationwide Series Preseason Thunder Fan Fest: NASCAR Nationwide Series teams begin testing on Friday in preparation for the season-opening Camping World 300 presented by Chevy. The finalNASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 19 with the NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers. Sprint FANZONE opens at 9 a.m. Tickets to the event are $10.
Tickets: Race tickets for all DIRECTV Speedweeks 2008 events at Daytona International Speedway are available online at www.racetickets.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Wednesday testing speeds from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series testing in preparation for the 50th running of the Daytona 500:
1. 9B, Kasey Kahne, Dodge, 47.591, 189.111
2. 11B, Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 47.665, 188.818
3. 40, Dario Franchitti, Dodge, 47.689, 188.723
4. 01A, Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 47.703, 188.667
5. 12B, Ryan Newman, Dodge, 47.724, 188.584
6. 77B, Sam Hornish Jr., Dodge, 47.836, 188.143
7. 43B, Bobby Labonte, Dodge, 47.845, 188.107
8. 20B, Tony Stewart, Toyota, 47.857, 188.060
9. 55M, Michael Waltrip, Toyota 47.877, 187.982
10. 6B, David Ragan, Ford, 47.888, 187.939
11. 22B, Dave Blaney, Toyota, 47.909, 187.856
12. 26A, Jamie McMurray, Ford, 47.910, 187.852
13. 15A, Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 47.912, 187.844
14. 20A, Tony Stewart, Toyota, 47.919, 187.817
15. 34B, Derrike Cope Dodge, 47.925, 187.793
16. 44B, Dale Jarrett, Toyota, 47.958, 187.664
17. 12A, Ryan Newman, Dodge, 48.002, 187.492
18. 66H, Scott Riggs, Chevrolet, 48.007, 187.473
19. 88B, Dale Earnhardt Jr,. Chevrolet, 48.014, 187.445
20. 31A, Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 48.019, 187.426
21. 21B, Bill Elliott Ford, 48.042, 187.336
22. 10B, Patrick Carpentier, Dodge, 48.052, 187.297
23. 38B, David Gilliland, Ford, 48.065, 187.246
24. 11A, Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 48.082, 187.180
25. 77A, Sam Hornish Jr., Dodge, 48.101, 187.106
26. 01B, Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 48.141, 186.951
27. 26B, Jamie McMurray, Ford, 48.147, 186.928
28. 22, Dave Blaney, Toyota, 48.179, 186.803
29. 50A, Stanton Barrett, Chevrolet, 48.429, 185.839
30. 49B, Ken Schrader, Dodge, 48.456, 185.736
31. 44A, Dale Jarrett, Toyota, 48.493, 185.594
32. 08A, Carl Long, Dodge, 48.611, 185.143
33. 55, Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 48.636, 185.048
34. 83B, Brian Vickers, Toyota, 48.679, 184.885
35. 83A, Brian Vickers, Toyota, 48.780, 184.502
36. 43A, Bobby Labonte, Dodge, 48.780, 184.502
37. 10C, Patrick Carpentier, Dodge, 48.872, 184.155
38. 34A, Derrike Cope Dodge, 48.928, 183.944
39. 29A, Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 48.979, 183.752
40. 21A, Bill Elliott, Ford, 48.991, 183.707
41. 87, Jeff Fuller, Chevrolet, 48.992, 183.703
42. 49A, Ken Schrader, Dodge, 49.090, 183.337
43. 60B, Boris Said, Ford, 49.225, 182.834
44. 6A, David Ragan, Ford, 49.231, 182.812
45. 60A, Boris Said, Ford, 49.347, 182.382
46. 9A, Kasey Kahne, Dodge, 49.421, 182.109
47. 66C, Scott Riggs, Chevrolet, 49.467, 181.939
48.31 Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 49.474, 181.914
49 29B, Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 49.642, 181.298
50. 09A, Sterling Marlin, Chevrolet, 49.732, 180.970
51. 15B, Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 49.788, 180.766
52. 57A, Norm Benning, Chevrolet, 50.171, 179.386