Robert Yates was dry-eyed after Dale Jarrett finally gave him the championship the team owner has coveted for so long.
"I don't know whether I have any more tears," Yates said Sunday after Jarrett's fifth-place finish in the Pennzoil 400 clinched the $2 million Winston Cup title. "They were probably all left after those devastating things that happened in the past."
Yates was referring to the loss of Davey Allison, his first driver, in a helicopter crash in 1993 and the nearly fatal injuries to Ernie Irvan, Allison's replacement, in a crash at Michigan Speedway in 1994.
"Maybe I'll cry a little tomorrow," Yates added with a smile. "Right now I just feel good about this for Dale and (crew chief) Todd (Parrott) and the rest of the team. I'm sure Davey's watching us and very proud."
Jarrett wrapped up the title in the 33rd or 34 races of the season after leading the last two thirds of the schedule.
"There's no question that Davey Allison is a part of this," Jarrett said. "Some people might say, `How is that? This was a second team.' But he's the one who sat with Robert and got this thing started. None of this would have ever happened if it wasn't for Davey, and Ernie, too, for what he was able to do and accomplish and keep things going at Robert Yates racing."
Jarrett, who will turn 43 on Nov. 26, joined the Yates team in 1995 to fill in for the injured Irvan. When Ernie returned in 1996, Yates formed a second team, moving Jarrett from his well known No. 28 entry to a new No. 88.
That move, teaming him with brand new crew chief Parrott, has paid off with finishes of third, second, third and now first.
"This should be like his third championship, or maybe even the fourth," said Parrott, son of longtime NASCAR crew chief and team manager Buddy Parrott. "Like the old saying, good things happen to people who wait. He's waited and we've waited and here we are."
Jarrett's father, Ned, won two series championships and this title makes them the second father-son combination to do that, joining Lee and Richard Petty.
Until Jarrett emerged as a serious contender in 1993, winning the first of two Daytona 500s and finishing fourth in the points with Joe Gibbs Racing, he was considered little more than a journeyman by most people.
"All you can do is work hard, look at situations and try to put yourself in the best situation you can at the proper time," Dale said. "Maybe it was a situation that I wasn't able to handle something like this until now.
"I've enjoyed a wonderful career that is now topped off with a championship. I can honestly say i these last four years there have been very few days when I haven't thanked God for putting me with these people.
"Robert has shown he knows how to see talent and get the job done."
Yates is considered one of the best engine-builders in racing and held that role in 1983 when Bobby Allison, Davey's father, won the series championship. But he had not won since become an owner in 1989 and was second-guessed by some people when he hired Jarrett, who struggled through his season in the No. 28.
"His dad was a champion and I knew what kind of person and driver he was," Yates said. "For all the people who were second-guessing that move in 1995 suck it up guys. He's a driving son of a gun and a wonderful guy.
"He living proof that good guys can be champions."
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