Dale makes his final start in NASCAR by Kellyanne Lynch
17 May 2008
Dale Jarrett finished 21st in his Michael Waltrip Racing #44 UPS Camry in the Sprint All Star, his final Sprint Cup series race. He finishes his career with 32 wins, following his 17th All Star start.
Dale drove the Big Brown Truck before the start of the race. His father Ned then gave the invocation.
The call to start engines came at 9:11pm ET. Tony Stewart would have to drop to the rear with an engine change.
"It's time to shake... and bake."
"10-4," Dale replied.
There was a long pause on the radio.
"Roger. We got it, man," somebody said.
"Pace car's pit road speed," spotter and son Jason Jarrett said. After another pause, he said, "One to go when you get back. One to go."
"10-4," Dale responded.
"Hey, Jason, that first race, the top groove was real slick." His crew chief talked about how three or four cars slid around at the beginning of the race on the high side.
"Coming to the green. 11, 77 lined up behind you. Have a good night," Jason said.
"10-4. Thank you, buddy," Dale replied.
"All right, bro. Let's pull on the belts and have some fun!" exclaimed crew chief Bill Pappas.
"Pace car's off. Be ready. Ready? Ready? Ready? Ready? Green green green."
Kyle Busch led the field to the green flag at 9:19pm. Dale qualified 18th but started 16th.
"Inside. 11 with you. 11 lined up right with you. Still inside, inside. Outside. Clear high inside, clear high inside. Got a run up to you to your mirror. Small hole, small hole. Got a run up to your mirror. Inside. Inside, outside. Going to be clear high, clear high."
Kyle and Kurt Busch were first and second going into lap 1.
Dale was 24th and last on lap 2. Meanwhile, Sam Hornish Jr scraped the wall.
"Got one in the wall all the way to the top. Still green right now. Still green," Jason warned.
After another long silence lasting for a few laps, Jason said, "10-4.
"Watch the 77 up here. Up high. Still green, still green."
On lap 9, Dale picked up 23rd when Hornish Jr pit after hitting the wall again.
"That's a 31.1, 31.1. The two guys in front of us are 31.3s," said the crew chief on lap 14.
"31.1 again," he said on lap 17. "31.1. The four cars in front of us are running 31.5s, DJ. You're doing a good job. Eight more before the break. Eight more.
"Hey, DJ, when you can, we need temperatures, please," requested the crew chief with two to go in the segment.
"200 and 230."
"Yellow's out, yellow's out. Lap 25 there," Jason announced the end of segment one. Sam Hornish Jr got one of his two laps back.
"The car never did tighten up," Dale commented. "Just can't get down in there."
"10-4, DJ. We're going to come in when pits open. We're going to give you four tires and make a track bar adjustment," the crew chief said. "As the run went on, DJ, did it change at all?"
"Negative. Not at all."
"There toward the end, if it changed any, I got freer into the corner. I was actually having to use a lot more brake. I was trying not to use any, but I had to."
His crew chief said they could sacrifice the front a little by turning off the front B-blowers to help the problem.
"Yeah, we're going to need a pretty big swing, Bill. DJ, the Childress cars are backing up," somebody said.
Jason announced that pit road would open the next time around the track.
"We'll be pitting this lap. We'll be pitting this lap," Bill said a moment later.
The field pit under caution.
"42 at the line," Jason said. "Fifteen."
Bill guided the rest of the way. "10, 3, 2. Down here, down here, down here, down here."
"I can't see it. Let me get in. Let me get in, guys."
"Forward, forward. Stop."
Dale overshot his box a bit on pit road.
"It's all right," Bill said during the stop. "We made a trackbar adjustment, tire pressure adjustment. Everybody's screaming they're loose. We've got a long way to go. We're all right. All right, go go go go go. Good job. You're all right."
"Hey, Jason, next time, you need to tell him when he's ten boxes or ten pits away."
Jason said he had but that Bill must not have heard him.
"Who's the car pitting behind me?" Dale asked.
Bill said it was the 88 behind him and the 43 in front. He reiterated that he made a trackbar and air pressure adjustment
"It'll be one to go when we get here, one to go when we get here. Tail end of the longest line," Jason said.
"That B-blower deal, DJ, leave them off. If you want during the run, you can turn them off. See if that helps with the balance."
"10-4," Dale replied.
"Coming to the green. 77 lined up behind you," Jason said. "Pace car's off. Be ready. Ready? Ready? Ready? Green green green."
Kyle Busch led the restart on lap 1 in the second segment. Dale was 23rd.
"All clear, all clear. 77 three back," Jason guided. "All clear. Outside. 42 still outside, all the way to the top. All clear. Clear by two to the 77. All clear behind him. Got a run up to you. Got a run outside. Outside, outside."
"30.7," Bill read off the lap time on lap 7. "30.8.
On lap 14, Carl Edwards moved into the lead; Kyle Busch's #18 was having issues.
"31.0," Bill continued with lap times. "DJ, how's the car? Did we do anything to help ya?"
"Yeah, 10-4," Dale replied. He said the chassis seemed too tight when he was behind cars.
"It might be."
"Outside. Outside door, bumper. Clear, clear," Jason noted. "All clear. Pulling away from 31."
Lap 16 saw Dale pick up 22nd from Jeff Burton's #31.
"It's just a little tight on exit there," Dale said.
"Temps, DJ. Give me the temperatures," Bill requested.
The crew chief said something that got cut off by Track Pass.
"I can still get..." Dale was cut off too.
Edwards was still leading at 9:54pm when the second segment ended on lap 50.
"Pit road is closed," Jason said. "Bill, when I say how many stalls, I'll say 15 and then 10, and you get him from there."
Bill said to get him to the infield track, and he'd call in DJ from there.
"We're a little out of practice, but we're good."
"Pit road is closed."
"So, DJ, to tighten you up a bit more, we could stick another spring rubber in that left rear," Bill suggested.
"Yeah, you thinking that for the entry?" Dale asked.
"Okay. What are we going to do to help me on the exit, where I was too tight?"
"We can come back up on the trackbar."
"How much did we go on the trackbar there?"
"We went down three rounds." Bill then directed the crew. "We'll stop first, fuel, tires, and then work on the car."
"Something to think about as y'all think about this is maybe, maybe leave what we got with the trackbar and a rubber in the rear or something like that," Dale suggested.
"10-4. Put it right on the marks, right on the marks."
Hoods went up on all the cars during halftime in the race. Hornish was given back the lead lap.
"We had taken that cambre out of the left front yesterday, DJ," Bill said. "That seemed to help your entry in the middle?"
"Yeah, maybe a little bit, but it wasn't a huge change," Dale replied.
"So, for entry bounce, DJ, we need to tighten you up some. Is that what you want to do?"
"Well, maybe just a little bit," Dale replied. He said the trackbar helped him in the corner. "I just lost a little front grip as I ran. So give me some ideas or something or think about some ideas of what would help with the centre and the exit, and let's not think about the entry much."
Bill suggested a shock adjustment and some other things too.
"Make a right rear shock adjustment, guys. Right rear shock adjustment," Bill told the crew. "We're trying to help you centre off with the shock change, then you're comfortable on your entry with the track bar. I'm sorry. I didn't catch that."
"I don't know," Dale responded. "The trackbar definitely helped me on the entry on the corner there, and I'd like to leave that part. Don't work on the entry, and I'll work on it on my side." He said he wanted to work on the exit and centre. "Just give me a little more grip back to the front."
"We'll put a rubber in that right rear and lower the trackbar a little bit down," Bill replied. "That track bar seemed to be a positive, so just that rubber in the right rear."
"Five minutes," Jason noted.
"So the 5 car's running in front of us, DJ. They're just a little bit off the pace," Bill told his driver.
Meanwhile, Kyle Busch's team determined that their #18 was finished due to an engine issue.
"It'll be the 44, 42, 31," Jason said. "One minute, one minute."
"Jason, those guys running up front, are they running the bottom, middle, or top or wherever they want to?" Dale asked.
Jason said a few were running the bottom. "The only difference I see is that their entry in the corners is a tire width higher."
"Yeah, DJ, the 99 and the 88 were eating up the bottom, but everyone else was running the top," Bill added. "Even Mark Martin was running the middle. That was one that surprised me a little bit."
"I just couldn't make my car stick there. I tried it a few times. I just couldn't make it stick."
Bill then said, "Yeah, a lot of times, when we give you this information, DJ, we don't know if they mean to be up top, but that's where they are."
"Is the 77 back on the lead lap, or is he still one down, Bill?" Jason asked.
"Hey's back on the lead lap, Jason."
"Coming to the green. Pace car's off. Be ready. Ready? Ready? Ready? Green green green."
Edwards led the restart at 10:13pm, lap 1 of the segment. Dale was 22nd.
"31 outside, outside. Clear up behind him if you need it. 77 about one back. All clear. 77's got a run. Still half back. All clear. He's got a run outside now, run outside now. All clear, all clear. Outside. Outside. All clear, all clear. Have a run outside, outside. Still out there. Outside."
On lap 2, Dale was 23rd. Meanwhile, Dale Earnhardt Jr took the lead. The only one behind him was the #18 in the garage.
"Inside. Still down there. Outside. Door. Quarter. Bumper. Clear clear clear."
Lap 6 saw Dale pick up 22nd from Burton.
"That's a 30.6 lap," Bill said. "30.7."
On lap 8, Matt Kenseth dropped inside the #88. The pair ran side-by-side until Earnhardt Jr pulled back out front.
"DJ, how's the car feeling to you now?" Bill asked on lap 13.
"It's better," Dale replied.
Greg Biffle took the lead on lap 15.
"I'm still just losing grip with the front tires after fifteen laps," Dale told his crew chief on lap 21.
"10-4," Bill acknowledged. "31.4."
Biffle was still leading at the end of the third segment. Dale was 22nd.
"Okay, yellow's out, yellow's out," Jason noted.
Bill asked about the centre.
"Yeah, I'm okay there. In and to the middle is okay," Dale replied.
"We'll make a tire pressure change, try to get you a little more right front grip."
"The change we made, did that help the balance?"
"Yeah, it was definitely something that went in the right direction."
"Pit road's closed. Pit road's closed," Jason said.
"DJ, I was going to put another rubber in that right rear to help you off and four tires?" Bill asked.
"10-4," Dale replied.
"We'll make a small tire pressure change in the front to help that entrance." Bill warned cars would be popping out everywhere on pit road.
"10-4. It will be open this time. It will be open.
"42 at the line. 9 is going to be inside. 15 away. 10 away."
"3, 2. Right here, right here," Bill guided. "All right, go go go go. All the way to the outside, outside."
Biffle got really close to the #44 leaving pit road.
"Safety truck high when you get to 2," Jason warned. "One to go when you get back. One to go."
"DJ, bring 'er down pit lane. I want to make a splash and go here," Bill said.
"Bring 'er down pit lane?" Dale asked.
"He's coming to you," Jason observed. "15. 10."
"Yeah, here you are. Stop on the marks. Don't slide the tires. Here you are. Good job. Good. That's good, guys. See ya!"
"Coming to the green," Jason said. "26. Tail end of the longest line. There you go."
"All right. We've got 25 laps, DJ. Let's make them count, buddy."
"Pace car's off. Ready? Ready? Ready? Green green green," Jason guided.
Denny Hamlin took the lead from Biffle almost immediately after the fourth segment started.. Dale was 22nd.
On lap 3, Jimmie Johnson led by one-thousandth of a second. Kasey Kahne was right there with Johnson and Hamlin. Hamlin reclaimed the lead.
"Last lap 30.4. That was your fastest lap," Bill said. "30.6.
With 16 to go, Hamlin's engine blew. Kasey Kahne took the lead after transferring in with the fan vote.
"I'm just real free. The harder I go, the worse it is," Dale said.
"10-4. Let's turn off those B blowers. Turn those B blowers off," Bill replied. "15 to go, DJ. 15 to go. 31.0."
With Hamlin's departure, Dale moved up to 21st.
"Clear by five on the 26," said Jason.
"Clear by four," Jason noted. "They have a run up to you, run up to you. Running up top. Run outside. Outside. All clear."
Dale fell to 22nd with eight laps to go.
"Four to go," Bill said. "31.2.
"Outside. Outside. You're going to be clear, all clear. Coming to the checkered flag," Jason called the end. Kasey Kahne picked up the win. He is the first driver to win after transferring into the All Star race via the fan vote.
"Dad, congratulations on a great career," Jason said.
"Thank you, Jason," Dale replied. "I wish it had ended better. I just got loose at the end there."
"Dale, thank you for everything you've done. I appreciate everything you've done and everything you did here."
Dale finished 21st in his final race.
Next week's Coca Cola 600 is also in Charlotte. Coverage starts Sunday at 5:00pm ET on FOX. David Reutimann will run the Nationwide Series' Carquest Auto Parts 300 the day before. It'll air at 7:00pm Saturday on ESPN2.