Dale Jarrett has waited long enough. More than anything right now, he wants to put the finishing touches on what has been a masterful season by wrapping up the Winston Cup championship today in the inaugural Pennzoil 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla.
Jarrett not only has been stewing in the pressure cooker of first place in the series standings for two thirds of this season but has been close to a championship for the past three years, finishing third, second and third.
This is after years of struggling to shed the journeyman tag that was applied to the second-generation NASCAR driver as he races in less-than-great equipment.
"I think that things come your way in life when you're ready to handle them," Jarrett said. "Obviously, my faith is what got me through a lot of situations and times . . . when maybe people didn't think I could do this.
"I think Dale Jarrett is at a time in his life now where he's ready and can handle something like this and appreciate it."
Jarrett, 42, will start 12th in the 43-car lineup. He goes into the 267-lap event on the 1 1/2-mile oval leading runner-up Bobby Labonte by 231 points and needing only to finish the race ahead by 185 to nail down the $2 million title.
BUSCH SERIES: Joe Nemechek took advantage of Ward Burton's mistake for an emotional victory in the season-ending Hotwheels.Com 300 Busch Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Burton was black-flagged for jumping a restart with just three laps remaining, giving the top spot to Nemechek, who easily held off series champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. to grab the eighth victory of his Busch Series career and first since April 1998 in Talladega, Ala.
Nemechek, whose brother, John, died of injuries from a crash in the spring of 1997 during a truck race in Homestead, dedicated the victory to his memory.