Dale Jarrett is one of the most well known and liked drivers in NASCAR. He is famous for driving the #44 UPS Toyota Camry and was a part of Toyota’s inaugural season into NASCAR. He has driven for some of the most prestigious car owners like Cale Yarborough, Wood Brothers, Joe Gibbs, Robert Yates, and Michael Waltrip.
A true champion, he has won the Daytona 500 three times. Dale comes from a family that’s been very involved in racing and he is the son of two-time Grand National Champion Ned Jarrett. Dale’s younger brother Glenn also drove and was a pit commentator for NASCAR and Jason Jarrett is Dale’s son who has driven in the Busch Series.
As well as being a talented racecar driver, Dale is very good at golf. After he graduated from high school in 1975 he was offered a full golf scholarship from USC, but he had other plans. He turned it down and headed to the racetrack. His driving career started in 1977 at Hickory Motor Speedway, a track owned by his dad. In his first race, he started in last place and was able to move up and finish in ninth. His driving talent was beginning to show itself. He spent a few years honing his driving skills at Hickory before moving to the Busch Series in 1982. His best finish that first year was third and he finished sixth in the points standings. It didn’t take Dale long to be ready to face the big dogs in the Cup Series and he debuted at Martinsville in 1984. He qualified 24th and finished fourteenth.
In 1987 he was in contention for Rookie of the Year honors, but came in second to Davey Allison. Dale was hungry for that first cup win and finally got it at Michigan International Speedway in 1991. He finished a career best 17th that season in the points standings. The 1993 Daytona 500 was a memorable one for many NASCAR fans. That race has been referred to as “The Dale and Dale Show” because Jarrett was able to pass Earnhardt for the win with only one lap remaining. Dale Jarrett’s dad cheered from the booth where he had called the race.
Dale is the one who started the tradition of “kissing the bricks” at Indianapolis after his win of the Brickyard 400 in 1996 when he and his entire crew bent down to give the bricks a smooch. Ever since then, every winning NASCAR team has been kissing the bricks. In 2003 the Indy teams caught on and now hold the same tradition. In 1998, Dale began to suffer gallbladder problems and ended up having surgery in the offseason. Undaunted, he returned in 1999 and won his first Cup title by 201 points. This same year he retired from driving in the Busch series and paired up with Brett Farve to become part owner. They fielded the #11 Rayovac Ford, one of it’s drivers being Dale’s son Jason.
In 2000 Dale hooked up with UPS and they began the “Big Brown Truck” campaign which continued to the end of his career. The 2008 Food City 500 at Bristol was Dale’s last race and he passed the torch to David Reutimann who now drives the #44 Toyota. In a driver’s meeting before that last race, he spoke to his fellow drivers: “Enjoy this. We all have our time in this, and mine has been fantastic. To me, it has been an honor and a privilege to be able to race in this series and say I raced with and against and sometimes beat the best in the world. Thanks for allowing me to do that. Enjoy it. It’s a great sport, and you guys make it what it is.” After his retirement, Dale joined the ESPN broadcasting team as their lead racing analyst.