Saturday, May 13, 2006

Jarrett To Toyota in 2007

It's official. To the surprise of virtually no one, Michael Waltrip announced Saturday that former NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Dale Jarrett will join Michael Waltrip Racing next season, driving a Toyota Camry.

Waltrip made the announcement, saying, "We've signed Dale Jarrett to drive our Toyotas in '07 and '08, and we're real proud to have Dale on board. He's a wonderful ambassador to the sport, and he fits perfectly with what we're building, and what we're doing. We believe he can win us some races, and give us a lot of direction and guidance with a new startup team and a new manufacturer. (It) will be a real asset to have his knowledge, experience and ability on our team, directing our path for us."

Jarrett said he is looking forward to the new challenge, as well. "When Michael called, I thought about it for quite a while," Jarrett said. "I saw a new challenge there, and we're always looking for that. I think that's going to be a lot of fun and a great challenge. I'm looking forward to it."

Jarrett said money was not the main factor in his decision to make the move, adding, "The biggest thing is the opportunity to help Michael and Toyota start something new. I saw that as a unique challenge that I wasn't going to have that opportunity to do again. I said, `That's something that I want to be a part of.' It's nothing against Robert and Doug Yates and everybody there. They've been wonderful to me. It's just a new challenge that I needed."

Waltrip made no announcement concerning sponsorship for the new team, and sources say there is still a possibility that UPS may elect to move with Jarrett. The sponsor has reportedly given RYR a list of acceptable replacements for Jarrett, and will agree to stay on if Yates can hire one of them.

Responding to allegations of disloyalty to Yates and Ford, Jarrett said, "I've already gotten (comments) about, `Don't you have any loyalty to Robert Yates and the Ford Motor Company?' Certainly, I do. They're the reason that I'm here. But there comes a time when you have to make that decision for yourself, and this is the decision that we've made."

Robert Yates Racing General Manager Doug Yates also commented on the signing, saying the team did all it could to retain Jarrett. Yates said RYR offered to match Waltrip's offer, only to have Jarrett come back some later to say the offer had changed. Ford Motor Company officials are reportedly incensed over Jarrett's decision to join rival Toyota, since the 1999 series champion has won all but two of his 32 career Nextel Cup wins in Fords. Jarrett also owns one of the largest Ford dealerships in the country; Dale Jarrett Ford in Monroe, NC. Ford executives are reportedly now scrambling to lock-up Jarrett's teammate, Elliott Sadler, to prevent a similar exodus to the Toyota camp, reportedly with the new Red Bull Racing team.


  1. Anonymous6:20 PM

    My gut tells me that Sadler will move to the #88. I know it might be a tough sell to the M&M's people though. My thinking is the M&M's people would be more receptive to a younger driver. Their product does market to a younger crowd.

  2. I believe the UPS sponsorship will go with Jarrett as I think Chip Ganassi will move quickly to lock up Casey Mears. My opinion could change if the other names on the list that UPS has given to Robert Yates were known, but Mears is the only one I have heard to be on that list.

    Personally, I think Toyota will be a potential disaster for NASCAR. Not because of any old redneck sentiments about " American Only "
    manufacturers but I believe that Toyota just doesn't want to compete, but to "take over " for lack of a better word, NASCAR. If what Jack Roush has alleged about Toyota offering sponsorship discounts is true, I believe that would completely disrupt the economics of NASCAR, and be devastating to the " Little Guys " like Cal Wells, BAM Racing, and HOF Racing. And even though I still do not fully believe the rumor about one of the Big Three pulling out, I would not be surprised if one did leave because of this.

  3. Anonymous11:57 AM

    I have to laugh every time one of these form letters is issued to the public.

    Of course it's not about the money Dale, we all know you better than that (tongue firmly in cheek). It's the challenge, and trying to run top 20 with MWR will certainly be that!

    20 mil for a washed up has-been! How much money to you think Toyota will throw around once they start to get serious about their Cup teams?

    I’ll guarantee every major car owner in the Cup garage is wondering about that same thing right now.

    Look at Toyota’s track record in every other series they have participated in - Cup car owners of today take a good look at each other, because in 4 years a lot of you will be gone.

  4. Anonymous3:06 PM

    I agree and I laugh every time one of these TRD guys plays the "we are just here to compete why is everyone so mean to us" line. Roush knows better then anyone of these Cup owners how TRD plays. He watched it first hand when he ran in IMSA. So far the TRD business plan looks like it has been copied from how they entered CART. They came in with a bunch of low rent teams to develop their program. Then they cut a 50 mil check to Ganassi and left a lot of teams out in the cold. TRD killed off Dan Gurney and every other team that did the TRD leg work on their CART program. So before every NASCAR fan calls me a Japanese hater and that Toyota should be mentioned right up there with Apple pie and Chevrolet I suggest you wait a few years and see how this all shakes out.

    P.S I still think Sadler to the #88 is damn good idea and to see a pimply faced young kid that looks like he eats to many M&M's would be perfect for the #38.