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Jarrett: Points race will stay competitive

Posted: Thursday, June 01, 2000

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. -- NASCAR's Winston Cup points race is wide open, and Dale Jarrett says he doesn't see the championship picture clearing up in the near future.

Eleven different drivers have won in the first 12 Winston Cup races. Jarrett, last year's champion, says he won't be surprised if the competitive trend continues until the final weeks of the season.

''Bobby La bonte is leading in the points, but no one has shown that they will run away with it,'' said Jarrett, who recently enjoyed an evening at NASCAR SpeedPark with race fans.

''I really feel for the first 24 or 25 races you will see 10 or 11 drivers and teams in the championship battle. I think you are looking at about five drivers with a chance to win. It's unusual to have 11 winners in 12 races.''

''It's a combination of things,'' Jarrett said of this year's parity. ''More teams are staying together longer. That's helped a lot. That's the key to having more success in this business. People are getting into it at a younger age, and they have more experience.''

Trailing Labonte by 100-plus points doesn't have Jarrett concerned this early in the season. After his fifth-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600, Jarrett says he is ready to make a run at the championship.

''We haven't performed like we can. But we're only 140-something points out, so I feel good. I think we will get things worked out.''

The younger drivers, making a strong presence this season, have impressed Jarrett. Dale Earnhardt Jr., has won two races, and Matt Kenseth earned his first Winston Cup victory Sunday at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.

''The young guys don't have much respect for their elders,'' Jarrett said with a laugh.

''Junior has done a great job,

and Kenseth could have had another win if he had won at California. As tough as the competition is, I'm surprised they have won this quickly. There are some good young

drivers.''



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