A Look Back In Talladega History: Dale Jarrett Shares His Memories

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To Listen To Dale Jarrett share his memories of Talladega Superspeedway, follow this link: http://www.talladegasuperspeedway.com/documents/DaleJarrett.mp3

Talladega Superspeedway holds a special place in the heart of Dale Jarrett.  The 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion scored two wins at the 2.66 mile track in Alabama, including the final win of his career.  And, while he scored 21 top-15 finishes in 41 starts in NASCAR’s premier division, he says watching the race from the TV booth gives him a whole new appreciation for what attracts fans to Talladega.
 
“The racing took on a new meaning to me, by moving into the broadcast booth, especially at Talladega,” said Jarrett.  “As I watch these guys race now, I understand why the fans love it so much.  It’s totally different, it’s great racing and the atmosphere is fantastic.  Yes, I have a little more time to relax and enjoy it, and I look at it from a different perspective, but the racing is fantastic.  Really since the repaving of the track, it has made the competition exceptional.  It’s fun to watch and obviously it’s fun for me to call and be a part of and give the fans an idea of what the drivers may be thinking.  Not that they all think the way that I did, but I can give them a little insight into what happens in the draft and what some of these guys are looking at.”
 
Jarrett knows better than most the excitement, and intimidation, that racing at NASCAR’s Most Competitive Track brings.
 
“Well it was a little intimidating the first time I actually came here in 1987.   It was the first time I had seen the racetrack in person.  It was a little overwhelming.  You hear about how big it is and you can say 2.66 miles, but you don’t understand how massive it really is.  And of course, the speeds at that time, there were no restrictor plates.  That was the last race, the spring race of 1987, that we ran Talladega or Daytona without restrictor plates.  I qualified at, I believe it was 201 mph and that was a mere 11 mph off the pole.  But on Saturday, I got out in Practice and speeds well over 212 mph.  It was a fun feeling and it was nice to finally come to the racetrack and be a part of a race at Talladega.”
 
It would take Jarrett eleven years to earn his first win at Talladega, but when it came, it brought with it a wave of emotions and a stack of cash.
 
“It meant a lot to me because I had won at Daytona a couple times and that was great, but you want to be able to do that here because it is one of NASCAR’s biggest stages.  I had seen Dale Earnhardt and a lot of others win at this racetrack and I wanted to add my name to the list and we were able to do that.  We thought a couple of other times that we were going to be able to pull that off, but the thing that made it even more special in 1998 was the deal with Winston and the No Bull 5.  We actually won someone a million dollars along with ourselves winning the race.  It was a pretty cool day, and to finally visit Victory Lane at Talladega was really special.”
 
While Jarrett’s

first win at Talladega came during his prime as driver, his second win came during the twilight of his career.  He calls that win his favorite memory of racing at Talladega.
 
“The on track memories, gosh, there’s a lot.  But that last win would have to be my favorite memory.  I’ve seen a lot of great races here, been a part of a lot, but that one, being my last victory in the Cup Series is always going to be special to me.
 
“I think we were expected to win in 1998 or were certainly one of the favorites to win. In 2005, I felt like we had a good chance to get a top-5 finish, but there were other cars that I felt were a little bit better towards the end of the race, in particular Tony Stewart.   Honestly, my plan was to push Tony to the win, because I didn’t think I had anyone helping me enough to make the pass on Tony.  When we got the white flag, Tony made a move to the inside of Matt Kenseth and it really wasn’t somewhere I could get my car and help.  So Matt kind of fell in place behind Tony and I just took the outside and got a push from Carl Edwards.  From that point, I was able to pass Tony on the backstretch.  Knowing that now, as I look back, it was my final victory and it was very special in the way that it happened and unfolded.  I used the draft to my advantage and it became a very special day and one now that I will always remember.”
 
Not all of Jarrett’s memories were made on the racetrack.  He says some of his favorite off-track memories at Talladega were made just spending time with the fans.
 
“There are probably too many off-track (to name a favorite), because this is such a fun place.  Whether it was going out with Elliott Sadler and a number of other drivers into the infield, Robert Yates, my car owner for years, we would just go get on our golf carts and go see the fans in the infield.  It’s understandable why they are having such a good time and why they love to come here.  We would just go hang out with them and have a great time.  I look back on those days in the evening, after a qualifying session or something, and just having a good time with my friends and being able to go out there and share it with the fans were pretty special times.”
 
Race fans will be able to make their own special memories at Talladega Superspeedway during the April 24-26 Aaron’s Dream Weekend.  Tickets are available at 1-877-Go2-DEGA or www.talladegasuperspeedway.com
 
In 2009, Talladega Superspeedway proudly celebrates forty years of the most competitive racing in NASCAR.  While the track has seen changes made to the cars that circle its high-banks, the surface that they race on and the grandstands that thousands of fans fill twice a year, one constant remains; Talladega Superspeedway is authentic NASCAR racing at its finest. 
 
Race fans should make plans now to experience part of Talladega’s history in 2009 during the triple-header, Aaron’s Dream Weekend, April 24-26, featuring the ARCA RE/MAX Series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  For tickets, visit

href="http://www.talladegasuperspeedway.com/">www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 1-877-Go2-DEGA. For our hearing impaired guests, please call TDD 1-866-ISC-TRAK (1-866-472-8725). Tickets also are available in person by visiting the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. CDT, Monday- Friday.
 
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