Dale and Dale.    Dale Jarrett (left) with Dale Earnhardt having a laugh.

Dale and Dale.    Dale Jarrett (left) with Dale Earnhardt having a laugh.   

Editors Note: We’d all rather be at the races this weekend. But instead,

we’ll leave you with some fond memories of racing at Homestead-Miami

Speedway from NASCAR champion Dale Jarrett.

NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett had memorable moments in his career at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Jarrett clinched his only Cup Series championship at the track in 1999 with a fifth-place finish in the season’s second-to-last race and he also won the first race at the track four years earlier.

“We went there in 1999 and had an opportunity to clinch the championship there with finishing eighth or better that day and we finished fifth,” Jarrett said. “That’s such a special memory and to win that first points race and then to turn around and clinch my championship there in the Cup Series says that Homestead Speedway is a place is near and dear to my heart.”

Jarrett made nine starts at Homestead (1999-2007) in the Cup Series, driving his UPS No. 88 Ford around the track six of those times, the Quality Care/Ford Credit No. 88 Ford twice, and the UPS No. 44 Toyota once with one top-10 finish and five top-20 finishes.

“I remember first and foremost was the excitement of when Homestead Speedway was built and then looking at it from a driver’s standpoint was the first design of it was something that was a smaller version of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which I loved the idea,” Jarrett said. “The thing we quickly found out was the asphalt was different, as it is in all parts of the country basically, but it made for a very difficult race track to maneuver around and drive, but one that I enjoyed the challenge.”

Homestead-Miami Speedway opened three years after Hurricane Andrew passed through, which helped revitalize the community.

“I think the premise of why it was built, when it was built with everything that took place in that area was exciting for us as a group in NASCAR and help with the rebuilding process of the community,” Jarrett said. “I enjoyed the challenge of it, the opportunity to go to an area that we had not raced in, and it was very exciting to be there. To go there for that first points event in the Busch series and race was a lot of fun. The fan support was great.”

Jarrett, who is currently a commentator with the NBC Sports crew for NASCAR events, has seen the track and support in the area grow over time.

“The fan support continued to grow through the years,” Jarrett said. “Obviously the race track changed a couple of different times with the design and what is there now is in my opinion is the best of all worlds. It gives drivers the opportunity to move around the track, different lanes to race on, which makes it exciting racing for the fans. In talking to drivers and from a

driver’s perspective, it’s almost the perfect type of venue to hold a championship event whenever points and the schedule changed the way that it did in the way we crown our champion.

“We’ve had some spectacular final races and it’s not in that position anymore, but it’s still a race the drivers look forward to because how much fun it is to race there.”

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