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Voices From The Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Friday October 12, 2007
During my lengthy tenure as a writer for Frontstretch.com, the editors have often reminded us (the writers) that no matter what our past experience is with NASCAR, we should always strive to appear as journalists first…fans second. While I have usually succeeded in following that directive, longtime readers know that, being the rebel that I am, I have never hidden the fact that Dale Jarrett is my favorite NASCAR driver. So tday, I have been given special permission to ignore that directive and wear my heart on my sleeve (of my fancy UPS jacket, of course!).
I have never been the type of guy that has "heroes," but if I were, Dale Jarrett would have been one. There is just nothing not to like about the man. While he may not have the record of some of the other NASCAR icons, he is a past Champion (along with his dad, Ned) and is described by all who know him as one of the classiest guys ever to take to the track.
With that in mind, Friday, October 12, 2007 was a day that, while I knew it was inevitable, I prayed would never come. Alas, time catches up with all of us; the great Dale Jarrett, now 51 years old, announced that after the first five (points) races of the 2008 season, he is calling it quits.
“This is obviously a decision that required a lot of thought and consideration, and it is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do,” said Jarrett. “I’ve been fortunate to have one of the best NASCAR sponsors in UPS, and I’m first and foremost a competitor. The desire to compete is the reason why I have continued as a driver in the Nextel Cup Series. But I’ve come to the decision to get out of the race car, and while I’ll miss being a driver, I am looking forward to the next phase of my life and career.”
The decision to run those first five regular season races next year, in and of itself, demonstrates the man’s loyalty and dedication. While many people thought that DJ should have hung it up after leaving Robert Yates Racing and the fabled No. 88 UPS Ford, Jarrett dedicated himself (and his six past champion provisionals) to help Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota get a foothold in their premier NASCAR Nextel Cup season, a season which has been fraught with disappointment – Jarrett has failed to qualify 11 times over the course of the season. DJ, however, never one to give up, will once again attempt to get the No. 44 into the Top 35 in owners points before he hands over the reins to David Reutimann and heads to the broadcast booth, much the same as his father did many years ago.
Not only is DJ loved by millions for his actions on the track, but he is also respected and liked by millions of people who have no interest in NASCAR at all, through his commercials for his longtime sponsor, UPS. Who can forget the little boy in the shopping mall who vows to hold his breath until Dale agrees to drive
“the truck?” Dale simply looks around, then reaches out and pinches the boy's cheeks together! Problem solved! I don't care if you are a fan or not, that is simply one of the best NASCAR-related commercials ever made. You can't do that with just anybody.
There simply isn't the time or space allotted here for me to list all the positive things that Dale Jarrett has brought to the sport of stock car racing. His career and personality both speak for themselves. Three Daytona 500s. Two Brickyard 400s. One Nextel Cup title. But perhaps most importantly of all, he is one of those guys that everybody seems to like, in life as well as in racing.
While it is true that we as fans will get to hear and see Dale for many years to come as a race analyst, somehow, after the spring Bristol race, for a diehard DJ fan like myself, a little piece of me will retire as well. Yes, I have a replacement favorite, for I knew this day would surely come, but somehow it won't be the same.
Thank you, Dale Jarrett. I will always wear my No. 88 UPS apparel with pride. If I had a "hero", you'd be it!
Stay off the wall,
©2000 - 2008 Jeff Meyer and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Investing your emotions on a figure like Dale Jarrett has not been a waste Jeff ; infact it’s been energy well spent.Great tribute to a fine Human being!
I like the article about Dale Jarrett and his retirement. One notable exception. His lone title is courtesy of WINSTON not Nextel.
Although he might not be one of my “favorite drivers” there is not a fan that I know that dislikes DJ.
As you stated “There simply isnâ€™t the time or space allotted here for me to list all the positive things that Dale Jarrett has brought to the sport of stock car racin”
One thing is for sure, in the age of the “Tony Stewarts and Denny Hamlin” type of immature drivers, his professionalism, maturity, and overall competativeness while still being able to conduct himself properly will be missed.
We hope to hear him in the broadcast realm.
you are the only reason i watch nascar.good bye dj, and good luck. when you retire from nascar so do i. there will be no other driver for me.
What a nice article about our driver DJ. Good job.
@ Joseph Riach, if you want to follow another “nice” driver, look at Marcos Ambrose. Very DJ like.
I was an avid DJ fan for years. I had a whole DJ room. But in all honesty, he hasn’t had “it” for several years now, and it’s been so disappointing to see him soldier on with lackluster results. His defection from Yates and Ford was when I lost all feeling for DJ. I couldn’t believe he repaid the years of loyalty and support that Robert and Doug, and Ford had given him with such a move. I respected him so highly, I would have never believe he could be bought. I was wrong.
Yes, he will be great in the broadcast booth. He’s already proven that.
Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:
Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
BSNews! Bruton’s Plans Extend Beyond Bristol’s Track
Top Ten Reasons Fans Failed To Show Up At Bristol Sunday
BSNews! NASCAR CEO Given "Special" Award Amidst Lavish Fanfare
Fan Coun-ci-What? Just What Is It That NASCAR Wants To Study?
Want to know more about Jeff Meyer or view his complete article archives? Then hop on over to his archive and bio page.