Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

August 22, 2013

Jarrett pushing Bristol for All-Star Race

BRISTOL, Tenn. — In 1977, former Sprint Cup Series driver and current ESPN analyst Dale Jarrett drove to Bristol Motor Speedway with friend, fellow analyst, and former crew chief Andy Petree to watch a Late Model Sportsman’s race.

From the concrete grandstands, they watched what Jarrett remembers now as an exciting race. But the memory that stands out even more for him these 36 years later is the condition of their vehicle after the return trip to Newton, N.C.

“We borrowed Andy’s mother’s Chevrolet Impala and left Newton with Andy driving. It had four hubcaps on it,” said Jarrett. “When we returned it that night, it only had one and we didn’t hit a thing.”

Even then, Jarrett learned that Bristol Motor Speedway had a way of influencing automobile damage, directly and indirectly. Since that time, both men have been up-close-and-personal with what many race fans have voted as the most popular race track in the country.

The excitement that it engenders has prompted Jarrett to be a public advocate of deeming Bristol Motor Speedway as the new venue for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.  

“Charlotte has been a great venue, and Atlanta that one year, but I think it’s time that we take it to a short track and let these drivers battle it out,” Jarrett said, winner of the 1997 Goody’s Headache Powder 500. “Short tracks are where every one of these drivers got their start. What better place to have the All-Star Race than action-packed Bristol.

“You have side-by-side racing; you have to know in your mind that if the drivers come here with that kind of money on the line, then they’re going to be willing to take out their best friend, just spin him and take the spot.”

In the past, there has been some discussion about moving the event to Bristol, but those discussions never made it to the implementation phase. Similarly, there are many who would prefer that the August Night Race be on The Chase schedule. Jarrett, however, is not one of them.

“It would be great to have Bristol in The Chase, but I think it’s already in a better spot,” said Jarrett, who earlier this year joined Tim Flock, Fireball Roberts, Jack Ingram, and Maurice Petty in the 2014 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “In late August, having to come to Bristol to try and get in or stay in The Chase is very stressful, especially for drivers in the seventh to 14th spots.

“If Bristol was on The Chase schedule and [The Chase had begun], drivers might be more inclined to check things up. But trying to get yourself in or keep yourself there and knowing you have 500 tough laps at Bristol to do that, it’s more nerve-racking to me.”   

Jarrett won the then Winston Cup title in 1999 and tallied 32 wins during his 24-year career. Petree was the crew chief for the late Dale Earnhardt when he won two of his seven championships (1993, 1994).

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