action:article | category:SPORTS11 | adString:SPORTS11 | zoneID:40

Home » Sports » Motor Sports

August 13. 2013 10:41PM

Jarrett sees Chase for the Championship heating up

DETROIT — ESPN racing analyst Dale Jarrett expects it to be the best Chase for the Championship yet.

And he thinks the action Sunday at Michigan International Speedway will set the tone for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title tilt to come.

Jarrett, a three-time Daytona 500 winner and 1999 Cup champ, sees this weekend’s Pure Michigan 400 as a must-win, pressure-cooker situation for drivers vying for spots in the field of 12 to contest the 10-race Chase starting Sept. 15 at Chicagoland Speedway.

“We are seeing a tremendous battle for position,” said Jarrett, 56, who retired from racing in 2008 and joined ESPN full-time. “Certainly Jimmie Johnson is favored to win the championship, but he’s no sure thing. Clint Bowyer is right there, and so, too, are Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski.

“It’s the most competitive season in years, and MIS is going to answer a lot of questions about who’ll line up in the Chase. If you can do well at Michigan, you’ll have a leg up in the race to make it.”

Jarrett, whose father, Ned, won NASCAR titles in 1961 and 1965 and later became a racing commentator on TV, loved running at MIS, where he captured his first Cup event in 1991, winning the Champion Spark Plug 400. Jarrett himself drove to victory lane at MIS in 1996, 1998 and 2002.

He talked about the track, the Chase and several other racing and sports-related topics heading to the Irish Hills.

“I always said Michigan was my favorite race track,” he said. “I had success there, and it always lent itself to great competition. MIS is wide, fast, and drivers have to work hard for the win. It will be no different on Sunday. Michigan is there for the taking, and whoever wins could well set up his chances to make the Chase.”

When Jarrett retired in 2008, he had accumulated 32 career Cup victories and 16 poles. He also had won the Brickyard 400 in 1996 and 1999. Did he hang up the helmet too early?

“Not really,” said Jarrett, who will work ESPN’s telecast from MIS with Allen Bestwick and Andy Petree. “Opportunities present themselves for a reason. It was a seamless transition from driver to analyst. It’s been a terrific deal.”

Of course, Jarrett does miss life behind the wheel.

“I exceeded my dreams and aspirations as a driver,” said Jarrett, whose first race was at historic Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina, which was owned by his father. “I miss the thrill of racing, but I’m proud of what I was able to achieve. I owe much of that success to my mother and father.”

Jarrett is amazed by just how well-prepared drivers are in this modern era of racing.

“They are definitely athletes,” Jarrett said. “They spend a lot of time on their physical conditioning — well, most, anyway. I guess if there are millions of dollars out there to win, you’d better be prepared.”

Asked about Danica Patrick and her rookie year in Sprint Cup, Jarrett said the jury is out.

“She is still a work in progress,” Jarrett said. “I think she is getting more comfortable with the car. But giving her cars she can be more aggressive in is still a question. I think ever winning a championship in NASCAR is a tall order for Danica, but I can see her having a nice career and keeping her job.”

Regarding a job, Jarrett may be looking for one himself after the 2014 season, when NBC Sports will replace ESPN as a NASCAR broadcaster. What might he do?

“That’s a good question,” he said. “I might just retire again and enjoy life. What I can say is that as a TV racing analyst, I’ve made some dear friends and enjoyed every minute of it. I can’t complain one bit.”


 NH Sports Angle ╗ more
Links to news and happenings around the world of sports with a Granite State connection, updated daily.

Former All-Star Red Sox shortstop Rico Petrocelli: ôblessedö to have grown up in Brooklyn, now lives in Nashua

Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk, right, tangles with Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask in the first period of Game 1 of their NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinals hockey playoff series in this 2013 file photo.

NH-based insurer sues NHL to limit its defense in players concussion lawsuits

A's claim former Fisher Cat Marcus Walden

Mariano Rivera's son to pitch for NH squad

Kevin Davis, CEO and president of Bauer Performance Sports, displays Bauer Hockey's latest innovation in hockey skates — the Vapor APX 2 with easily changeable skate blades in this 2013 file photo.

Exeter-based Bauer continues to expand beyond hockey with $330M purchase of baseball firm Easton-Bell

Hollis-Brookline head football coach resigns unexpectedly

New owners for Waukewan Golf Club

Matches announced for USA v. Cuba clash at Rockingham Park this weekend

Boston Marathon victim Jeff Baumann throws out the first pitch prior to the start of a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Fenway Park last year.

Service's creed on display in support of airman affected by Boston bombing

40-year-old Manchester mechanical engineer wins MMA decision

New Hampshire Motor Speedway touts viability of casino site in Loudon

USA Knockouts Tamed in Cuba

U.S., Cuba boxers clash in Havana, U.S. bouts set for Rockingham Park in Salem

Lee USA Speedway opens season April 13

Newmarket woman plans world-record cross-country run for charity

CHIP KELLY

Is Chip Kelly racist?

World Series of Boxing event moved to Rockingham Park - USA vs. Cuba

Manchester man in top 30 candidates for Padres public address announcer

NH man helps MLB players deal with stresses on, off the field

Review of the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook

New Hampshire Motor Speedway may run Sprint Cup race in 2015 under the lights

How Boston lost the Patriots and 'New England' grabbed the NFL's 'Gold Standard'

Twin State Speedway gets new manager

Yale promotes former UNH coach to offensive coordinator

Bulldogs sign UNH's Nick Sorkin

MORE

 New Hampshire Events Calendar
    

   ╗ SHARE EVENTS FOR PUBLICATION, IT'S FREE!

Upcoming Events

 New Hampshire Business Directory

  

   ╗ ADD YOUR BUSINESS TODAY!