2008 Ride: No. 44 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
2008 Primary Sponsor: UPS
2008 Owner: Michael Waltrip
2008 Crew Chief: Bill Pappas
Stats: 5 races, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s, 1 DNF, 54th in points
Best Finish: 16th – Daytona 500
High Point: Was there really a high point to Dale Jarrett‘s final few races of his career? If you go by stats, then the high point had to be the 16th-place finish at the Daytona 500. But to hell with the stats! The high point, in my opinion, was the sendoff given by the fans to DJ at his final points race at Bristol in March. Tens of thousands showed their appreciation for DJ’s career in true Bristol fashion with placards that spelled out an enormous “Thanks Dale!”
If that tear-jerking moment wasn’t enough, later in the year at the All-Star Race, Dale finally “drove the truck” featured in all those UPS commercials – co-piloted by a lucky fan.
Low Point: Stat-wise, the entire year; but like I already said, to hell with the stats!
Summary: While we’ll still see him as a commentator in the ESPN booth, Jarrett will truly be missed on the racetrack. He was always one of the classiest out there, and a true hero of the sport; his departure at 51 means one more tie cut from the NASCAR of old. How do you sum up a man like that? Thanks Dale!
Dale’s Cup career spanned 24 years with 668 starts, 32 wins, 163 top fives and 260 top 10s, with nearly $60 million in career earnings and one Cup championship (1999). Unfortunately, Jarrett never was able to sustain that success with MWR, never finishing higher than 16th in 29 starts over two years with the team.
2009 Outlook: We’ll still see and hear DJ in the booth! He’s slated to call a full season of Nationwide races and the 17-race ESPN Cup schedule as an analyst. Too bad he can’t replace Rusty altogether!
Quote of the Year: “Well, it wasn’t the finish I would have liked. But I’m able to go out with the best sponsor in the business in UPS – I would have liked to have had a better day for them, but I really can’t be too upset when you take into consideration the kind of career I have been fortunate to have.” – Dale Jarrett after a 37th-place finish at Bristol, Tenn. wrapped up his points-paying Cup career
2006 Frontstretch Grade: C-
2007 Grade: D
2008 Grade: D for the year, A+++++++ for a career!