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Bristol is one of those racetracks that lets out the animal in all of us. 160,000 rabidly cheering fans, a 500-mile spectacle unlike any other, and 43 drivers bumping and banging each other so hard all over the track they’re lucky to have any sheet metal left by the end of the night. The constant traffic and nerve-wracking pressure make it easy for anyone to lose their temper, leading to some memorable yet embarassing moments through the years. But if you were to ask anyone before the race who’d be the most embarassed driver exiting the track this Saturday night, who in their right mind would have said Dale Jarrett? Seriously! Yet that’s exactly what happened…and Dale has no one to blame but himself.
For those living under a rock in Alaska, Ryan Newman gave Jarrett a tap in turn 2 close to the halfway point of Saturday night’s fight under the lights at Bristol, sending Dale into the wall and limping to pit road. The chances of Jarrett making the Chase for the Championship all but ended, he was unable to control his emotions. Jarrett went right back out on the track during the next green flag run with only one mission in mind: knocking Newman into the wall. Rarely do drivers get the chance at revenge so quickly in these types of situations; usually their car or their conscience get the best of them before they do something stupid. Unfortunately for Jarrett, the car would still run and the conscience was missing, so just ten laps after his own spin, he put on his own dunce cap. Slamming into the 12 car of Newman exiting Turn 2, he took himself and Newman into the wall, with Kevin Harvick getting caught up in the mess before it was all said and done.
Newman was shocked. Harvick was pissed. And the whole NASCAR community seemed to be…confused. This couldn’t be the Dale Jarrett the sport has nurtured as one of its best and brightest role models. Growing up in the shadow of a legend, Dale Jarrett has always had to face high expectations. With a father, Ned, known as a NASCAR legend both as a driver and a broadcaster, Dale is constantly finding himself living up to the shadow of Ned’s gentlemanly demeanor left behind by four decades of dedication and devotion to the sport.
And most of the time, Dale’s played the part well. Sure, Jarrett’s had his moments of weakness, as we all do. Back in 1993 at Bristol, he got so mad at Bobby Hillin after a wreck he threw his helmet into the driver’s side door, nearly landing it in the driver’s cockpit and knocking Hillin in the head. And this spring at Bristol after a wreck by Shane Hmiel in the Busch Series race, Jarrett had a nasty conversation with the young driver after he walked up the front straightaway after the crash.
But for the most part, Jarrett has been a composed, intelligent, model citizen and family man, the perfect driver for NASCAR to advertise as the leader of America’s “family sport.” Only problem is, as of late there’s been nothing to advertise. Jarrett hasn’t been running well….and not just for a few weeks, or a few months. It’s been a few years now. The man who spent the 1999 season as the champion of NASCAR’s highest level has simply spent the last year or two trying to remain on the map, outside of those continuously funny UPS commercials. He hasn’t won a race since Rockingham in February of 2003, and hasn’t finished in the Top 5 in points since the end of the 2001 season.
If this were all happening to Jarrett at 30 years old, maybe even 35, then perhaps Dale would have more patience. But as everybody knows, Dale doesn’t have that kind of time to iron out the kinks in his Nextel Cup program. He’s going to be 50 years old next season, in a sport that is likely a few years away from disposing of any and all 50+ drivers for good. He’s under pressure to perform, and it’s just not happening; the only reason Jarrett was in contention to make the Chase in the first place was simply by finishing every race, and his stats were being used as the guinea pig for critics anxious to see NASCAR’s playoff system changed.
But no matter how big the pressure’s become, the incident Jarrett created Saturday night was inexcusable. This was ten times worse than anything we’ve seen a driver do this year. Jarrett tried taking someone out at a track that averages almost 130 mph around it, with 43 drivers flying by in under 16 seconds. It wasn’t a gentle spin Jarrett created, it was a slam into the wall that caused Newman to fly across the track…and the consequences could have been far worse for the 12 car then just a gentle hit by Kevin Harvick when things were all said and done. Jarrett could have caused serious injury to a competitor, all stemming from his inability to keep his cool, something he should easily have learned by now after 20 years on the circuit.
So what happens now? Jarrett got two meaningless laps spent in the pits, with his reputation saved him from any further penalty; you better believe that if it was Kevin Harvick starting that mess, we wouldn’t see him on the track for another month. Instead, the 88 goes to California next week with a clean slate and still an outside shot of making the Chase; the 12 has to focus on making the playoffs, and based on how Newman has dealt with Rusty, I find it unlikely he’ll try and make peace with a driver he’ll only have to deal with for another year or two. In the end, one would think that everyone will try and put this whole mess behind them, shurg it off, and just try and move on with the rest of the season with the playoffs on the line.
The problem is, Jarrett’s legion of fans can’t shrug it off, no matter how hard they try. What happens to all the 10-year-olds of his who saw what happened out there in Turn 2? Has Jarrett just taught them to punch someone back the second they’ve been punched in the face? To be a sore loser when things don’t go your way? To play dirty tricks in order to get sweet revenge? There’s a lot of questions those gans be asking, and not a lot of good answers one of NASCAR’s model citizens will be able to provide.
When the good guys fall, it’s not always pretty. But that seems to be the case for Dale, and the sport is worse off for it. Too bad Jarrett has no one else to blame.
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
EARNHARDT FAN FOREVER
I think your article criticizing Dale Jarrett for his actions at Bristol is a little over board.
Maybe Dale is just fed up with the young punks thinking and acting like they own the race track.
Carl Edwards rammed both of the Petty cars, and it was a good thing that Kyle was the one talking to Edwards after the race and not Richard.
Jimmie Johnson has done his share of putting the bumper to other cars, and so has his little friend, Jeffy Gordon.
Newman put the bumper to Dale and Dale returned the favor. Itâ€™s just the way racing should be. Harvickâ€™s involvement in the scuffle was more due to his spotter not doing his job.
You know, this is automobile racing. The biggest mistake a driver can make is to bite off more than he can chew. I think Newman found that out.
Iâ€™m pretty sure that Jarrett was not pleased with the fact that he had to retaliate against Newman, but what other choice did he have. NA$CAR doesnâ€™t permit punching an offending driver in the snot locker after the race. Ask Jimmy Spencer about that one. If it happens on the track, take care of it on the track. Thatâ€™s the only way it can be done.
Dale Jarrett is no spring chicken in the racing world. I donâ€™t think heâ€™s washed up either. Dale knows how drive a race car, the only problem is, he can only drive the car as fast as it will go.
You might want to concentrate your attention on the â€œCash Cowsâ€ of the Roush and Hendrick teams if you want to see some poor sportsmanship. Hell, some of them canâ€™t even get along with each other.
Chris Gregory Nashville TN
Well-written article describing what surprised but did not shock this DJ fan. This fan will be able to â€œshrug it offâ€ and look for a statement from Jarrett sometime this week. One question though to address the supposed double standard that you mentioned in the article between DJ and Harvick. How many times has DJ been placed on diciplinary probation by NASCAR in his 20 year Cup career? The answer is 1 time fewer than the number of races that Harvick has had to sit out because of a violation of probation. You make a valid point but have chosen the wrong posterchild in Harvick. Certainly DJ was unsportsmanlike on Sat. night but it is Bristol. I believe that Dale Earnhardt could have used a weapon at this track against another driver to gain position and Benny in the booth would say something about that contact being tough racing.
Thank you and I look forward to your next article.
I am one of those legions of Jarrett fans and guess what? I donâ€™t think any less of Dale Jarrett. Yes,it was wrong. But, Did you see all of what precipitated the incident? No, neither did I and I am guessing that their was probably more to it that we saw. Iâ€™m sorry but,I have no sympathy for either Ryan Newman or Kevin Harvick. Both have a history of wrecking people and thinking that a simple â€œIâ€™m sorryâ€will take care of it. Well, if you go out and do the same thing over and over sorry wonâ€™t cut it.That makes what he does just as bad if not worse because it is calculated not done in the heat of the moment. Just look back to Friday night where Newman did the exact same thing to Kahne in the Busch race.Iâ€™ll bet he said he was sorry for that too. But not sorry enough not to repeat it on Saturday. No, Iâ€™ll not feel disapointed in Jarrettâ€™s behavior. I will chalk it up to being human and frustated with the arrogance of the â€œYoung Gunsâ€ and their inability to drive clean. Whatâ€™s the old saying,â€Drive them the way they drive.â€ Well, how does it feel Ryan Newman?
I think thatâ€™s BS. Ryan Newman clearly hit DJ and it certainly looked intentional to me.
I applaud Dale for taking him out. Newman deservred it and he may want to think twice in the future before he gives someone else a cheap shot.
I see nothing wrong with what DJ did.
you forgot how harvick
drove in the busch race
he had it coming
The second thing that should happen, NASCAR should make sure he does not get into the GREAT CHASE!
I am not in Jarrettâ€™s legion of fans but I respect a driver that stands up for himself and makes someone accountable for their actions. Dale will be held accountable for his and Ryan Newman should be made accountable as well.
Competitive spirit and personal accountability have become unpopular recently. Too bad for out kids and nation.
Good for Dale.
I think the lesson everyone can walk away from this with is that you still have to stand up for yourself. I mean, you are basically telling these young Jarrett fans to sit back and take it when they are being pushed around by the fat bully on the bus. What Jarrett should have done is to go after newman in a situation where no one else could be wrecked-after the checkered flag for instance. newman HAS to know that Jarrett is in contention for the chase along with him and the mere fact that he bumped him goes to show why all heâ€™ll ever do is qualify(and hardly ever) first. So, young Jarrett fans out there, DONâ€™T start the fight, but do stand up for yourself in a way that no innocent bystanders will be hurt. THAT is how a true hero or a champion conducts himself.
I have to agree with you on numerous areas of your article about the incident at Bristol with DJ. It was totally unlike DJ to do something like that but I think it is all catching up to him and the pressure that he is under with the new points system. That is not an excuse for what he did to Newman and I am not condoning what he did to him but if you look back at Dale Earnhardt, he use to do that sort of thing all the time and DJ was brought up in that era of race car driving. We have to look at all the drivers like Newman and Harvick and see some of their actions on the track, they are not so innocent. I really enjoyed reading your article, keep up the great work.
Webmaster @ DaleJarrett4ever.com
The excuse of â€œThatâ€™s Bristolâ€ is a copout.
And Newman didnâ€™t mean to hit him? That makes it all ok, I guess. Seems to me that there was another guy that â€œjust wanted to rattleâ€ the other guyâ€™s cage a bit. And he did it twice in a row to Terry Labonte at Bristol. Hmmmm, now who could that be. Another nice guy that didnâ€™t mean to, no doubt.
in the back bumper without
doing anything about it. Now
maybe some of those guys that
ram the guy in front to pass
will think twice.
If you stay out for position hoping for a quick caution, you might cause the next caution when the new tire boys come through the pack. If Jarrett is going to take that chance he needs to get out of the way when it doesnâ€™t work.
After making the first mistake,itâ€™s too bad that Jarrett compounded it with a loss of temper.
My mother told me that a good reputation takes a lifetime to make, but only a moment to lose.
I hope DJ doesenâ€™t have any more of these moments.
Which means we only have about three or four more drivers to check off before we have every driver doing something flat-out boneheaded at least once this season.
He lost his shot at the top-10 thanks in decent part to Newman’s “accident.” Newman, it seems, has a lot of accidents. So, in truth, have Johnson, Gordon, Stewart, Earnhardt Jr.. Edwards and a whole host of other drivers. I don’t condone what Jarrett did, but at least he didn’t insult our intelligence and pretend it was all just a mistake.
And hey… if they didn’t sit drivers like Stewart, Busch, Johnson or Vickers for their tantrums, I can’t imagine they’d sit Jarrett this time.
But did what happened on Saturday make me like Jarrett less, or make me lose any respect for him? Not at all. All driversâ€”as do all peopleâ€”have their breaking pointâ€”that moment where enough is enough. I think weâ€™ve seen Jarrettâ€™s. We see that he still has the fire to compete and thatâ€™s good. But Iâ€™m still surprised by his actions and hope this isnâ€™t the â€œnewâ€ Dale Jarrett.
In a perfect world, all drivers would behave the way Burton did Saturday night. Burton had every opportunity to give Kenseth a shot in the back in the end to try to get the win, and he may have been well within his right to do so. But he didnâ€™t. Some guys race that way, some guys donâ€™t. Itâ€™s just the way it is. But câ€™mon, would any of you enjoy NASCAR as much if there werenâ€™t the â€œgood guysâ€ and the â€œbad guysâ€?
Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace (especially Spencer) should get canned from ever commentating on Speed channel again. That big has-been (wait a minuteâ€¦..I mean never was) has a lot of nerve getting his rocks off on what happened. Of course, I guess you have to consider the source when someone makes excuses for bully-like behavior.
DJ needs to own up to it, talk to Ryan and Kevin privately (take a page from Kyle Pettyâ€™s book of gentlemanship), and vow to do better next time.
Great article by the way.
The 12 does not take himself out in those situations.
Jarrett was right in realizing that Newmanâ€™s boneheaded move was intentional and unnessessary, if it wasnâ€™t then Newman shouldnâ€™t be driving a race car.
I think this was the straw that broke the camelâ€™s back. Jarrettâ€™s been on the receiving end of someone elseâ€™s overaggressive stupidity more than a few times, and he finally retialiated.
There was also an element of desperation in Jarrettâ€™s action, he has fought to stay in this chase often with cars that seem to be a step behind and after working doggedly to get back on the lead lap being wrecked out of contention was more than he could take.
I do feel Newman got what he had coming. If you shove people around, sooner or later your going to run into someone who shoves back. Oops.
Iâ€™d feel bad for Harvick, too, except how many innocents have suffered at his hands? Again, what comes around goes around.
Did Jarrett damage his reputation? Probably not, in fact he may strengthened it in some fans eyes.
In the end, NASCAR is going to see this as just another race at Bristol, where rubbinâ€™ is definitely racinâ€™, where tempers fly and wrecking fellow competitors is part of the draw.
Where do you writers come from-you sure as Hell donâ€™t live in the real world. I am calling for you to stand up, do the right thing and resign. I'm sure you can find a job writing obits somewhere, but you would probably screw that up with your lack of maturity.
Iâ€™m guessing you are a recent graduate of a less than stellar college and you majored in History or Art Appreciation, and being unable to find honest work you turned to racing where you believed anyone could write-NOT.
Please go away after you apologize to your readers for the extremely poor drivel that you have dreamed up while pulling wings off of flies.
Please resign today!
Jarrett was only a lap down at the timeâ€¦he cost himself a top-twenty five finish because of his idiotic-ness (sorry if thatâ€™s not a word).
Jarrett lost alot of my respect. I used to see him as a great role modelâ€¦but thatâ€™s changed now. He owes both Newman and Harvick a public apoligy, but i really donâ€™t see that coming..he hasnâ€™t said anything since sat night...I think heâ€™s too embarrassed.
Now, if iâ€™ve made anyone mad, please forgive meâ€¦unless of course you are dale jarrett. sometimes the older drivers arenâ€™t always the wisest.
P.S. - Obviously, some people are â€œliving under a rock in Alaska.â€ They refuse to see what really happened. Jarrett needs to get over it and fix the mess heâ€™s gotten himself, Newman and others into.
You wrote â€œJarrett hasnâ€™t been running well.â€ Running in the top 10-15 isnâ€™t running well? Itâ€™s better than 35-40 other drivers.
you wrote â€œthe only reason Jarrett was in contention to make the Chase in the first place was simply by finishing every race.â€ When was the last NASCAR race you â€œsimplyâ€ finished?
What makes you think DJ was embarrassed when he left Bristol? I donâ€™t think DJ is ashamed of what he did.
I was there. Both incidents happened right in front of me as I was in the 3rd row from the fence in turn 2. Newman hit DJ more than once before he finally spun him. What did DJ have to lose by spinning Newman? Nothing! DJ finished 31st. Newman had a DNF. Look back at DJâ€™s career. What does it take to get DJ riled up enough to do what he did? Obviously DJ thought that Newman's bump was intentional. He ought to know, hes been racing Cup cars a hell of a lot longer than Newman! Get off DJâ€™s back just because he showed a little emotion that you are not used to seeing!!!!
DJ is not paid to be a â€˜role modelâ€™ though he is an excellent one. Iâ€™m proud to say that my 6-year-old granddaughter is one of his biggest fans, as am I. He is paid to drive the tires off of Robert Yatesâ€™s Fords, win races and championships.
After Newman DELIBERATELY spun him, some retaliation was certainly in order. Itâ€™s a shame that NASCAR also didnâ€™t penalize him for rough driving when he was the one that started the trouble.
Frankly, Iâ€™m sick of these young drivers who were â€˜bred to raceâ€™ coming into the sport and being considered instant stars. Does anyone truly believe that â€˜Lil Earnhardt is a wonderful role model for children? Letâ€™s get real here.
Good job, DJ! If the circumstances warrant you showing the kiddies that youâ€™re no one to mess with, please slam them again! By the way, when you do retire, so will I as a Cup fan.
Youâ€™re not special because you wasted away your best years watching cars go around in circles instead of playing with your children or planning for your retirement.
Youâ€™ve just been watching TV longer.
Sorry, many people know more about NASCAR and how itâ€™s run than you ever hoped of knowing. Your just a fan Jan. Stop thinking you know more because youâ€™ve been here longer. If you want to share your knowledge and amusing anecdotes. then great, but donâ€™t think that just because you havenâ€™t figured out yet that your boy DJ hasnâ€™t been earning his pay, according to your Job description, that he deserves to be applauded and not reprimanded for blatently losing his temper and wrecking a much better driver than him.
Retire DJ. Youâ€™ll free up a space and we wonâ€™t have to listen to Jan tell us about her or ?his? odd dellusions of superiority any longer.
Wake up DJ fans. Your boy is going out like DW only without the career to look back on.
As for endangering drivers livesâ€¦ come on, give me a break! These cars only do about 60 though the turns at Bristolâ€¦ don't you think your over-reacting. Bristol has always been the place where drivers have settled scores!
As for Dale loosing credibility and respect with fans. I THINK NOT! I was on-line in a NASCAR chat room at the time this happened, and everyone there thought the 88s actions were appropriate. It signaled to the rest of us that he's not someone that can be bullied. I think all Nascar drivers took note of what happened, and will make sure that they dont â€œaccidentlyâ€ wreck him next week.
GO 88! Iâ€™ll be rooting for you!
(A Rusty Fan)
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