By JOANNE KORTH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 26, 2002
CONCORD, N.C. -- Dale Jarrett's most frustrating season in years was made worse this weekend by rumors he is among several drivers looking to make a move for next season.
Jarrett adamantly denied Saturday he is leaving Robert Yates Racing.
"I've read where I'm going somewhere else and ... nobody in this garage area has come and asked me if I'm going somewhere else," said Jarrett, 45, the 1999 Winston Cup champion. "So, I'm (mad) about it. I am not going anywhere. I'm the driver of the (No. )88 car until Robert Yates decides I'm too old to do this, I guess."
Jarrett acknowledged speaking to owner Andy Petree, who helped build and was part-owner of Jarrett's first racecar at Hickory (N.C.) Speedway, about a deal Petree is putting together, presumably with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Jarrett and Tony Stewart have been mentioned as drivers Petree and Jones would like to hire, but Jarrett told his old friend he was not interested in leaving Yates.
"Andy Petree came and asked me what my deal was and I told him what my deal was," said Jarrett, whose contract with Yates runs through 2004. "A lot of times there's not a lot of loyalty in this garage area ... I can assure you that I am very, very loyal to Robert and (team engine builder) Doug Yates and this entire race team."
Jarrett, who starts 38th tonight in the Coca-Cola Racing Family 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, is 15th in points, 468 behind leader Sterling Marlin.
Yates' deal with primary sponsor UPS expires at the end of 2004, but Jarrett said negotiations are underway to extend the deal, with Jarrett as driver, through 2006. NED JARRETT SURGERY: Jarrett's father, two-time Winston Cup champion Ned Jarrett, had heart surgery Thursday at Frye Regional Medical Center in Newton, N.C.
The elder Jarrett experienced shortness of breath Wednesday and drove to a doctor's office Thursday morning. A catheterization test revealed 95 percent blockage in an artery. Angioplasty was performed and a stent inserted. He was released Friday.
"I went and saw him at home (Friday) night and he's doing well," Dale Jarrett said. "As a matter of fact, if they weren't having a member-guest tournament, he was going to play golf, so he's doing well."
DOUBLING UP: Robby Gordon will make his second attempt at running the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. He'll be pressed for time, since the 500 starts at noon and the start of the 600 was moved up 30 minutes this year, to 5:30 p.m.
"We can win one of these," said Gordon, whose previous attempt, in 1999, was hampered by rain at Indy. "The most important thing for me is to keep my cool for 90 percent of both races and position myself to be there."
Richard Childress, Gordon's Winston Cup owner, is backing the Indy 500 attempt in conjunction with Gordon's former IRL team, Menard.