The Earnhardt Connection - News
|Earnhardt, Jarrett Offer Sons Their Advice at Darlington|
|Darlington, South Carolina (March 10, 1998)|
Two of NASCAR's and Darlington Raceway's most famous names were at the
fabled track Tuesday, and they weren't there just to drive. They were primarily there to
Not only were Dale Earnhardt and Dale Jarrett at the track "Too Tough To Tame," but their offspring were, too. Earnhardt's son, Dale Jr., and Jarrett's son, Jason, tried their hand at the 1.366-mile track for the first time in preparation for the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 on Saturday, March 21.
Earnhardt, the seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion, was getting in a few laps, getting ready for the Sunday, March 22, TranSouth Financial 400. He spent a lot of time coaching his son, as well as Ron Hornaday, who will drive Earnhardt's own No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet in the TranSouth Financial 400 in relief of Steve Park, who was injured in Atlanta last weekend.
Earnhardt owns the NASCAR Winston Cup Series team for which Park drives. Hornaday, who also drives for Earnhardt in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, plans to fill in for Park at Darlington and later this month at Bristol, Tenn.
"I've been preparing for this place for a number of years," said Earnhardt Jr., whose father -- who has nine Darlington wins -- ranks second only to David Pearson, who has 10 triumphs. "I think I'll let him (his father) get on the track in front of me and I'll follow him. I'm just making laps, learning where to back off and get back on the gas. This place is tough."
Hornaday, while a veteran in many other divisions, has never competed at Darlington, but says he'll get plenty of experience this week.
"I've got a lot of tires and I plan on going strong here for the next three days," said Hornaday, the 1996 Craftsman Truck Series champ. "That first lap I made was pretty exciting. It seemed like the entire first turn was a blur. It's everything Dale said it would be."
Jason Jarrett got the full attention of his father, who didn't bring his NASCAR Winston Cup Series car, nor a driver's uniform.
"I told Earnhardt if I knew he was going to be here, I would have just gotten him to coach Jason," said Jarrett, the defending champion of the TranSouth Financial 400. "I'll be glad when Jason learns the place so I won't have to be biting my fingernails. I know what he's going through. It's a tough track to learn."
Said the younger Jarrett, "It's the toughest place I have ever been on. This place takes the cake. I keep trying to get a rhythm, but it's hard to do. I'll be running OK, then all of a sudden, almost hit the wall. I'm glad he's (his father) here 'cause he knows how to get around this place."
A total of 10 drivers utilized the test session at NASCAR's original superspeedway. Ricky Rudd was quickest at 166.135 mph, followed by Bobby Hamilton (165.020 mph), Jeff Green (164.743 mph), rookie Jerry Nadeau (163.592 mph) and the elder Earnhardt (162.297 mph). Hornaday used the test to familiarize himself with the track, and says he'll go for speed Wednesday. Kyle Petty arrived late in the day.
Earnhardt Jr., was quickest of three NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division drivers who tested, at 161.127 mph. Lance Hooper was close behind at 160.391 mph, followed by Jarrett at 156.114 mph.
Testing continues Wednesday with most of the same drivers, with the additions of Petty, Steve Grissom and NASCAR Busch Series driver Lyndon Amick.