If Jarrett doesn't qualify for 500, he won't take teammate's ride

Updated: February 13, 2008, 5:10 PM ET

AP Photo/Paul Kizzle

Dale Jarrett will hand the keys to the No. 44 Toyota to David Reutimann after the first five races.

Jarrett: No To Reutimann's Ride

Dale Jarrett said he would not consider getting into teammate David Reutimann's car if the worst-case scenario happens Thursday and Jarrett fails to qualify for the Daytona 500.

Some people have speculated that team owner Michael Waltrip might ask Reutimann to skip the race to allow Jarrett to compete in his final Daytona 500 start, if Jarrett doesn't make it in.

"We won't do that just because it's my last one," Jarrett said. "It won't be the end of the world for me. We haven't talked about it.

"David is going to be there for the whole season. And I'm the one that recommended David to UPS [Jarrett's longtime sponsor], so I want him to go out and have a great Daytona 500."

Reutimann will take over in the No. 44 UPS Toyota after the first five races when Jarrett retires. Reutimann is driving the No. 00 Camry for Michael Waltrip Racing in the first five events.

Waltrip and Reutimann are starting on the front row in the second qualifying race Thursday. Jarrett is starting on the outside of Row 7.

Waltrip and Reutimann have guaranteed spots in the 500, so they will allow Jarrett to move ahead of them in the qualifying race if necessary to get Jarrett into the 500.

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.


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Evernham In Shadows

Ray Evernham


Ray Evernham confirmed Wednesday that he has only a small role now in Gillett Evernham Motorsports.

"It's something I should have done three years ago," said Evernham, who will work as an analyst this season for ESPN's NASCAR coverage. "I've taken the role of not having a role. I'm a consultant to the team. If someone has a question, I'm happy to give my opinion.

"It's been a little difficult, quite honestly. But the sport has evolved to the point that you have to be in it 100 percent on the business side or all in on the racing side."

Evernham sold controlling interest in his team last year to George Gillett. Tom Reddin took over for Evernham as CEO of the team last week.

Evernham guided Jeff Gordon to three championships as Gordon's crew chief before leaving to form his own team and helping Dodge return to Sprint Cup. At age 50, Evernham said he had no desire to return to the pit box.

"My knees and my stomach just won't take that anymore," he said. "For a time, we were the best in the sport, but nobody gets to ride that wave forever."

Elliott: Four Teams Two Too Many

Former Cup champion Bill Elliott believes NASCAR is making a mistake by allowing teams owners to have four cars.

"That's still too many," Elliott said. "It should be a two-car limit. The way it is now, Hendrick is a super team. You have no way of catching up.

"The Car of Tomorrow was supposed to bring the small teams closer, but the big teams still are five steps ahead of you, and you're losing ground instead of gaining ground."

Tire Management

Cup teams may need to take a more conservative approach on tires to eliminate the blistering problems some teams have experienced at Daytona.

Goodyear officials believe the tires are fine and don't plan to make a tire change before the Daytona 500. The problem is the amount of camber (tire tilt) the teams are placing on the right front.

The new cars are taller, causing a different center of gravity. The right front loses grip in the turns, so teams add camber to keep the tire surface on the asphalt.

But the added pressure can cause the inside lining to wear out. So teams have to give up a little camber to keep the tires from blistering.

Kurt Busch cut a right front tire in practice Wednesday and almost slid up into the wall, but managed to keep the No. 2 Dodge off the barrier.