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Jarrett talks about his retirement plans

Dale Jarrett

Dale Jarrett, driver No. 44 UPS Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
“This seemed a lot easier a couple months ago when I started thinking about this than it is to stand here today.  And, I just got off the internet to make sure I had this right because it seemed like everybody else knew what I was doing.  So, I wanted to make sure I was going to tell you the same things that were out there.  I’m just here today to officially announce a reduced schedule for Dale Jarrett’s driving career.  Last year, I signed up to do two years with Michael Waltrip Racing and with UPS and in the last three months there has been a lot of thought and consideration that has gone into what’s best for my sponsor -- UPS,  who I have been with for seven years now.   Trying to determine what was best for myself and my family and what was best for Michael Waltrip Racing.  I came to the conclusion and went to UPS with the idea that I would like to back out of all 36 races and gave them options of what I felt would be best for them.  I wanted to give them options to determine what was best for them to do in moving into the future.  In no way, shape or form -- and I can’t stress this enough -- was I asked or forced to reduce my schedule by either UPS or Michael Waltrip Racing.  This was a decision that I made, I went to my wife Kelly about it and that was how the decision came about.”

“Next year my plan is to run the Bud Shootout (Daytona), then run the first five regular season races.  Then the plan is to come back here (Lowe’s Motor Speedway) to run the All-Star race as my last event as a driver in the Nextel Cup Series.  Why the All- Star race?  There were a lot of considerations there too -- knowing that it couldn’t end with the Daytona 500 because of what we need to accomplish for Michael Waltrip Racing and UPS, we needed to run those first five.  The next consideration was to possibly run my last race at Indianapolis and another consideration was to make the Coca-Cola 600 here in Charlotte my last race, but the more I looked at those other considerations and opportunities, I realized that was somewhat selfish on my part because what that would do to allow me to be in that race would only knock someone else out of that race who is trying to run all the races, and I know what that is like this year.  I didn’t want to put someone else in that position so the All -Star race seemed like a good fit.  That is the plan and it has been a difficult decision, but I knew it was coming.  I just felt like with things that have transpired this year -- I am ready to do this.”

“When I made the deal to come to Michael Waltrip Racing, it was to help Michael and to help Buffy (Waltrip) develop their program and to help Toyota develop their program.  I had to think about what was best for that and at this point in time I feel like I am doing the thing that is not only best for me, but best for Michael Waltrip Racing.  As we move forward, we have a lot of young guys that we are going to talk about.  They’re the future of Michael Waltrip Racing and I’m not -- so it was time for me to make this decision -- I’m good with it and I’m looking forward to it.”

“As I said before, today it is a lot more difficult to talk about it than it was when I laid awake at night thinking about what I was going to say here today.  To steal a phrase that many of you have heard, I do feel like the luckiest person on the face of this earth.  I get to do what I enjoy doing in driving a race car and I have gotten to make a lot of good friends along the way.  I’ve been fortunate to do it without serious injury and I am able to walk away from it on my own terms and that’s a good thing.  I can’t say enough about the France family and everyone at NASCAR over the years for the opportunity they have provided me.   This has been, in my mind and in my heart, a privilege and an honor to drive a race car in this series and to drive for the people I have driven for.  I have raced against some of the best in the business that will always go down as the best -- one of them is Darrell Waltrip, who is here today, and of course Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt -- I was just very fortunate to come into this sport at a time when it was really on an upswing and it was great to have those people helping me along the way too.  To finish my career with the best sponsor in the business, I don’t know how it could be much better.  I’m just very fortunate and very honored that I’ve had this opportunity for so many years.  The last 21 years have been built around being at a race track for more than 30 weekends a year doing exactly what I enjoy doing.  My family has paid the price and allowed me to do that and hopefully I can give some of that back now.  I’m still going to stay busy and I’m still going to be involved with the race team -- I’m going to be around for quite a while because I do enjoy this sport, I like the people in the sport and I like what goes on with this sport.  But this is the plan right now.  I hope you understand that this is a decision that I made and I am very fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of good people.  There are a lot of exciting announcements coming from Michael Waltrip Racing and a lot of exciting things coming with Toyota next year.”

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