NASCAR & Auto Racing

Dale Jarrett to run first 6 Cup races in 2008, then walk away, sources say

TALLADEGA, Ala. – NASCAR veteran Dale Jarrett will run up to the first six races of the 2008 Nextel Cup Series season before stepping out of his No. 44 Toyota, The Charlotte Observer and have learned.

Jarrett would have six past champion provisionals to use to make races next season even if he cannot qualify on speed or his team is not in the top 35 of car owner points, which also guarantees a starting position in the field.

Making six starts would allow Jarrett to conclude his career March 30 at Martinsville, Va., where he made his first career Cup start in 1984.

When Jarrett steps out of the car, fellow Michael Waltrip Racing driver David Reutimann would take over the No. 44 for the remainder of the season, multiple sources confirmed Sunday. Reutimann would drive another MWR car until Jarrett stepped out, sources said.

Jarrett, 50, said Saturday he would announce his plans for 2008 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Thursday. MWR also has a news conference scheduled at Lowe’s for Friday, where the team is expected to address Jarrett’s decision.

“It’s not like it’s going to change anything about the world or anything,” Jarrett said Saturday about his decision. “I’m very happy with the decision. I will be driving some races.”

Jarrett, the 1999 Cup champion, said last week he had approached officials with his sponsor UPS two months ago and offered to make changes to his 2008 plans if they so chose.