Jarrett looking for sweep

Pocono Raceway will host its second event on the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series schedule with this weekend's Pennsylvania 500. Dale Jarrett and the #88 UPS Racing Team hope to duplicate their June performance at the 2.5-mile tri-oval and sweep Pocono's races.
   Jarrett looks to score a fourth career win at the Long Pond, Pa. track in the race scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. EST.
   Racing at Pocono Raceway is no easy task. Conquering its grueling turns and demanding straights is one thing. Doing it for 200 laps adds another dimension to the equation. The track is as tough on drivers and is brutal on equipment, especially the motors.
   "Pocono has always been a good place for me, especially since I came to Robert Yates Racing," Jarrett said. "I started driving for Robert in '95 with the 28 car. We came here for Pocono's second race in '95 and things hadn't gone as we had planned then up to that point, and we were able to win, so that kind of turned things around there."
   Since the win in 1995, Jarrett's average finish in Pocono's second race is eighth.
   Most fans will be surprised to learn that Jarrett is not taking back the car to the triangular track, he won the last race with. "We had a good car there in June," stated Jarrett. "We're taking a different car this weekend, but it should be just as good. It's a brand new race car that's identical to the one we won with in June.
   "I think several people will be tough to beat there with my teammate Ricky Rudd being first on that list. Unfortunately Ricky had a little bad luck there in June, but I think he'll be tough again this week. I think last year's winner Bobby Labonte and his teammate, Tony Stewart, will be tough as well."
   Rudd had a second lead over Jarrett in the last Pocono race, before a flat tire foiled his bid for victory.
   Jarrett scored 10 straight top-10 finishes in the Pocono 500 between 1991 and 2000. His top-10 finish streak was broken last year when the #88 UPS Ford was taken out by an accident on lap 55.
   It is rare for a driver to complete the sweep at Pocono. The last time a driver accomplished that feat at the 2.5-mile tri-oval was in 1999 when Bobby Labonte won the track's two events. Prior to Labonte's 1999 effort, the late Tim Richmond accomplished the Pocono sweep in 1986.
   Ward Burton and the No. 22 Dodge team was still sky high on Wednesday after their win this past Sunday in New Hampshire. "It was a great day for the CAT team and Bill Davis Racing," said 2002's most recent Winston Cup winner. "As Bill Davis said, we needed this win worse than any team in the garage area. 
   "We're a great race team that has had a bad year. It is a testament to the guys on this race team that hasn't given up despite all the weird things that have happened to us since Daytona. This is a great start, hopefully, to a strong second half of the season."
   Now, Burton shifts his attention to Pocono, a place where he finished a disappointing 33rd back on June 9.
   "Pocono Raceway has been a place that I should've won numerous races at, but I've had some frustrating times there as well," Burton remarked. "At the race this spring we qualified poorly, but felt like we were making gains until we broke during the race. After we broke, we still weren't up to par. 
   "This time we're bringing a different car and a new attitude to the track. I'm hoping that doing some unconventional things will work conventionally on the Caterpillar Dodge." 
   The CAT race team is taking a car to Pocono Raceway that hasn't competed yet this season. They have an extra feeling of confidence after the win Sunday was their first race with a new CAT engine block.
   "Dodge stepped up and commissioned Caterpillar to start building our engine blocks,"explained team owner, Bill Davis. "They've done it, and that's the first race we've ever ran one and then, won with it. We thank CAT for doing a good job and contributing so much to the success of this organization."
   Crew chief Tommy Baldwin and Ward will be friendly rivals this weekend. Burton's son, Jeb, and Baldwin's son, Tommy, Jr. will be racing quarter midgets this weekend at Pocono Raceway. The proud fathers will help coach their sons during the practice sessions and race.  
   On his weekly MSNBC column, driver turned announcer Wally Dallenbach picked Rudd as the pre-race favorite. Also of note, he has predicted how the season ending points standings will come out with Jeff Gordon in 1st, rookie Jimmie Johnson in 2nd and current points leader Sterling Marlin in 3rd.
   I won't go as far as picking the champion just yet, but my pick to win at Pocono this weekend is Gordon. Just like for Jarrett, who ended a 30-race winless streak a few weeks ago, Pocono is the perfect setting to end Gordon's 27-race long winless streak.