Dad thinks Dale Jarrett leaving at right time

Updated: May 17, 2008, 11:56 PM ET
Associated Press

CONCORD, N.C. -- Dale Jarrett's final race included a slow lap around the track in a delivery truck, his father giving the invocation and some tears.

Jarrett never threatened in Saturday's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, finishing 21st in the 24-car field to wrap up his storied career. The 1999 points champion won 32 times, including three Daytona 500 victories.

"It's over. We've done it," Jarrett said. "It's been great and I wouldn't do anything different."

His father Ned, a two-time Cup champion, gave the invocation before the race. Minutes later his son wiped his eyes after the national anthem. Jarrett got emotional again near the end of the race.

"It started with about five (laps) to go," Jarrett said. "I started taking things in and realizing it wouldn't be happening anymore."

While ending his career was tough, Jarrett's father thinks his 51-year-old 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."

Jarrett was honored before the race with a video tribute. He drove a brown UPS delivery truck in a slow lap around the track before the race. UPS was Jarrett's longtime sponsor and he did numerous television commercials with the truck.

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 going out on his own terms, and I think that's good," Ned Jarrett said. "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."

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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. He led the first 38 laps before bowing out with a blown engine and finished last.

But 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'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."

One Joe Gibbs Racing policy is lightening Busch's wallet.

It's tradition for the driver to take out his pit crew for lunch after wins. Busch's dominant season has left him scrambling to pay up.

"I owe them two lunches, for Talladega and Darlington," Busch said. "I've got to get the (Nationwide) team, though. I have them on Monday for all of my wins on the (Nationwide) side, so we're getting there. I've got some catching up to do."

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DOUGNUTS: Greg Biffle was deemed king of the burnout -- 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 before coming to a stop and then driving into a simulated Victory Lane with another burnout.

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. Busch, NASCAR's newest villain after wrecking Dale Earnhardt Jr. earlier this month, got 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."

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FRANCHITTI STILL OUT: Chip Ganassi didn't enter his No. 40 Dodge in the All-Star race activities because driver Dario Franchitti is still nursing a broken left foot.

The car will be back for next week's Coca-Cola 600 here at Lowe's Motor Speedway, but Ganassi believes Sterling Marlin will be behind the wheel instead of Franchitti. He was injured earlier this month in a wreck at Talladega, and has missed three Cup starts.

"It's the same old thing -- drivers think they aren't that hurt when they're hurt," Ganassi said. "They think they'll be back in a week, and so we all kind of said 'OK, great, it's going to be a week or two.' I think he's starting to realize that it's not going to be that quick."

Ganassi didn't rule out Franchitti participating in the test at Pocono Raceway in two weeks, or the June 1 race in Dover, Del.

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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 -- and a few red No. 8 flags left over from Earnhardt's old team -- were flying next to dozens of campers in the large campgrounds near the track on Saturday.

The grandstand erupted in cheers for NASCAR's most popular driver when Earnhardt took the lead in the third of four segments in Saturday's race. But Earnhardt quickly gave up the lead, and a four-tire pit stop later didn't stop his fade. Earnhardt finished eighth.

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LUG NUTS: Kasey Kahne, who got the last spot in the field thanks to a fan vote, became the first such driver to win.The fan vote has been in effect five years. ... Kyle Busch took his boos in the pre-race introductions in stride. Busch bowed to the crowd, then did it again in unison with his crew. ... Matt Kenseth, who finished third, was no fan of the Car of Tomorrow, used at this track for the first time. "It's so hard to pass in dirty air with these cars," he said. ... Davidson basketball coach Bob McKillop, who led the surprising Wildcats to within a victory of the Final Four, was the grand marshal.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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