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Dale Jarrett          

Former NASCAR Driver

Dale Jarrett knows better than most the tenacity and persistence required to solidify a career in NASCAR and that it takes more than a name to earn the respect and approbation of the NASCAR community. Accomplishing these goals has positioned Jarrett as one of the sport’s most esteemed drivers and allowed him to leave his mark as a NASCAR champion. It is Jarrett’s reputation on and off the track that led fellow competitor and friend Michael Waltrip to offer the Hickory, N.C., native a new challenge in the form of the opportunity to drive for Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) in 2007 as part of Toyota’s inaugural season in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.

After 12 years with Robert Yates Racing, Jarrett embarks on a new phase in his career with the move to MWR where he will be one of the marquee drivers to compete under the Team Toyota banner. While the challenge of driving for a brand new team may appear daunting to some, it is a task Jarrett understands and is comfortable with after similar high profile moves earlier in his career.

Jarrett is certainly no stranger to “upstart” teams and organizations as he was the driver with which legendary football coach Joe Gibbs elected to start his own NASCAR team – Joe Gibbs Racing – in 1992. Four years later, Jarrett was once again charged with the task of driving for a newly formed team when Robert Yates elected to expand his organization in 1996 and selected Jarrett to be the driver of the new #88 RYR team.

Born the son of a NASCAR legend, two-time champion Ned Jarrett (1961, 1965) Dale’s path to NASCAR stardom appeared inevitable although it is not one that was easily achieved. A love for racing fueled Jarrett’s ambition early in his career. If not for his desire to race cars, Jarrett’s career easily could have detoured down the path of another sport. As a successful athlete in high school, Jarrett excelled in football, basketball, baseball and golf. His talent on the golf course prompted the University of South Carolina to offer him a full scholarship, but his resolve to become a racecar driver ultimately won out.

Jarrett spent several years honing his skills on local short tracks such as his hometown track, Hickory Motor Speedway, driving in late model series events and eventually the NASCAR Busch Series. He secured his first Nextel Cup Series ride at Martinsville Speedway in 1984 in a one-off race, but didn’t start competing in the series on a regular basis until 1987.He considers his big career break the job offer that came from the famed Wood Brothers in 1990 when, five races into the season, he was tabbed to fill in for the injured Neil Bonnett. It was during his tenure as the driver of the #21 Wood Brothers car that he secured his first win in NASCAR’s top series, at Michigan International Speedway in 1991.

The aforementioned “upstart” car owner Gibbs selected Jarrett to serve as the driver for his new team in 1992 where Jarrett was teamed with his brother-in-law Jimmy Makar. Success wasn’t instantaneous, but the pair worked to build a team that started strong in 1993 by winning the Daytona 500, the sport’s Super Bowl. Jarrett’s father, Ned, was in the television booth calling his son to the finish line in a close battle with legendary driver Dale Earnhardt.

Jarrett drove for Gibbs through 1994 when he started exploring the possibility of owning his own team. Several drivers had taken on the driver/car owner position and experienced success. While Jarrett was pondering the business move, renowned engine builder and car owner Robert Yates was experiencing a successful run with driver Ernie Irvan. An ill-fated accident at Michigan in August threatened to end Irvan’s career, sidelining him for the remainder of 1994 and through most of 1995. It left Yates looking for a driver to fill the seat of the #28 car for the 1995 season.

Although the ride was only available as a one-year deal, Jarrett saw endless opportunities in driving for Robert Yates Racing. He planned to take what he learned from Yates and build on that knowledge when he formed his own Cup team beginning in 1996. As the 1995 season progressed, both Jarrett and Yates realized that they might want to reconsider their plans for the following year. Jarrett scored a win at Pocono in July, along with nine top-five and 14 top-10 finishes by season’s end. Rather than lose Jarrett’s talent, Yates made the decision to expand to a two-car operation, adding the #88 team with Jarrett as the driver.

No one could have predicted the level of success experienced by the first-year team. Jarrett, with guidance from young crew chief Todd Parrott, proved to be a powerful combination immediately by winning the 1996Bud Shootout at Daytona. A week later, eyes were wide open as Jarrett nearly replicated his 1993 win in the Daytona 500 by again beating Earnhardt to the line for his second victory in the season-opening event. Jarrett and the #88 team added three more wins in 1996, including the prestigious Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, to close the year with 17 top-five and 21top-10 finishes, a then career-best third in the point standings and establishing themselves as a championship threat for years to come.

For the next 10 years, Jarrett raced the #88 RYR entry into the NASCAR record books, from emotional wins to the crowning achievement of both Jarrett’s and Yates’ careers – the 1999 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship . Jarrett became, and remains to this day, only the second driver in NASCAR history to score a second win in the Brickyard 400, and is one of only two drivers that currently compete in the series to boast the title of three-time Daytona 500 winner.

UPS took over primary sponsorship of the #88 team at the start of the 2001 season. With the company’s “Race the Truck” campaign, Jarrett’s popularity has soared in the NASCAR arena with fans old and young asking him when he will race the big, brown truck. With UPS as primary sponsor, Jarrett and the UPS Racing Team have combined to score eight wins, 34 top-five and 69 top-10 finishes over the last six seasons.

With UPS joining him in the move to MWR and Toyota, Jarrett embarks on what will most likely be the final chapter of his storied career as he assumes the driving duties of the #44 UPS Toyota Camry. The 1999 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion is focused on securing the first series win for Team Toyota, while helping to build the foundation for a new organization that will carry on the Jarrett legacy for many NASCAR seasons to come.

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