Throwback Thursday: Ned Jarrett is a NASCAR legend. With 50 wins and two championships at the sports highest level. The 2011 Hall Of Fame Inductee casts a big shadow for any driver crazy enough to step into it, especially if your his son. Dale Jarrett racing career began in1977 after he turned down a full golf scholarship to USC. Dale raced at Hickory Motor Speedway before moving to the NASCAR Busch Series (Xfinity) in 1982. Dale finished a season high second place at Hickory in 1982, finishing sixth in points with 14 top 10’s. Jarrett made his Winston Cup Series debut at Martinsville in 1984, finishing 14th.
After running partial schedules for various Cup teams in the late 1980’s and early 1990, Jarrett was hired to pilot the #21 Citgo machine for Wood Brothers Racing. In 1991, ran full time in the #21 car looking for success. They found it.
Jarrett and his team went to Michigan and qualified 11th, not the best starting spot but they could make it work. Pole sitter Alan Kulwicki would lead only one lap before giving the lead up to Mark Martin. There would be 22 lead changes and four caution flags before the field reached 10 to go with Jarrett in the lead.
Jarrett lead Davey Allison until lap 199 when Davey made his move. The two took the white flag side by side. The question then was who would make it to the checkered first. They battled down the back straight away and into the final corner, Allison on the outside, Jarrett on the inside. Off turn 4 it looked to be Allison’s race but Jarrett found some extra power and beat Davey to the line by only 8 inches.
Jarrett took his first career victory with his father calling every moment from the TV booth. The win was huge as it not only was Jarrett’s first but it was the teams first win in four years and in Ford’s back yard.
Despite the win, Jarrett left the team at the end of 1991 and signed with a young team started by Washington Redskin’s head coach, Joe Gibbs.
Dale won the Daytona 500 in 1993 in the #18 car, the race again being called by his very emotional father. Dale won one more race for JGR before moving to Robert Yates Racing in 1995. Dale’s career took off. He went on to win 29 more races for a total of 32 Cup Series wins, the last of which coming at Talladega in 2005. His 32 wins consist of Three Daytona 500’s (93, 96, 00), Two Brickyard 400’s (96, 99) and One Coca Cola 600 (96). Through all these wins, Jarrett took home the 1999 Winston Cup Series Championship. Dale also joined his father into the NASCAR Hall Of Fame in 2014.
For the Jarrett family, you can rightfully say, like father, like son.
Now image if Dale would’ve taken that gold scholarship.