Jarrett open-minded as he begins discussing future with UPS
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- About two months ago, Nextel Cup veteran Dale Jarrett approached officials from his sponsor, UPS, and essentially put his racing future in their hands.
Together, they are mulling a number of options, including running a limited schedule next season or, perhaps, leaving the ride.
Jarrett, with one year left on his contract to drive the No. 44 Toyota Camry for Michael Waltrip Racing, has had a difficult season, to say the least. He has qualified for only 10 of 29 races, but has raced in 18 thanks to six provisionals and two qualifying rainouts.
"There's so many [scenarios], we couldn't get into it," Jarrett said Saturday at Kansas Speedway.
"The only thing I can tell you, it can be anywhere from one to 36 races. The biggest factor, obviously we want to make Michael Waltrip Racing better, [but] the biggest thing, mainly, is what's best for UPS.
"It would be totally unfair to say they're forcing me to do something because that's not the case whatsoever. I want them to be able to do what's best, and they want me to do what's best. I have a tremendous relationship there. I feel fortunate to have the best sponsor in the business at the end of my career, and I want to do and give them what is best for them and what they deserve."
Jarrett has been working television broadcasts with ESPN and ABC, but stressed his potential television career would not be a factor in his decision-making.
The only thing I can tell you, it can be anywhere from one to 36 races. The biggest factor, obviously we want to make Michael Waltrip Racing better, [but] the biggest thing, mainly, is what's best for UPS.
What he has found this season is that while it has been disappointing not qualifying for races, he has enjoyed his time away from the track.
"Obviously having some time because we've missed some races, I've realized that at this point in my life that it wouldn't be devastating if that was the situation, that I had more weekends off," Jarrett said. "I didn't enjoy not being in the races, but since I was at home, I enjoyed being with my wife and my kids, I enjoyed going to the golf course on Sunday mornings and seeing guys I haven't golfed with in a long time. It wasn't total devastation. It was hard at first. That's why I feel I can accept either role at this point in time.
"I have a whole different outlook on things now, I think my mindset is if they tell me that running the Daytona 500 and we do something different from that point, I'd be perfectly happy with that. If they say our program is built around you and our people really want you to run all 36 races, I can do that again, too. I'm happy with all of that."
Jarrett said he would have a decision regarding his future within the next couple weeks.
Angelique S. Chengelis is a contributor to ESPN's NASCAR coverage.
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