NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett won his first Brickyard 400 in 1996 and his second during his 1999 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship season in 1999, but he still remembers the one that got away.
Jarrett’s No. 88 Robert Yates Racing Ford was the fastest car in the 1998 race at Indianapolis, qualifying second and at one point building a 16-second lead. The payout for winning the race was $637,000, but crew chief Brad Parrott and owner Robert Yates wanted to collect every dollar that was up for grabs in the event.
That included a $10,000 prize for leading Lap 80, the halfway point.
Parrott told Jarrett he would be able to stretch his fuel to Lap 80 and make it back around to pit road, thanks to the 16-second lead. Unfortunately, the fuel mileage calculations weren’t entirely accurate, and Jarrett ran out of gas in Turn 1.
The race stayed green, and Jarrett lost four laps before he got to his pit stall to refuel. In the second half of the race, he got those four laps back under a format where lapped cars restarted in the bottom lane with lead-lap cars to the outside.
“We finished (16th) on the lead lap,” Jarrett said on Friday during an appearance for Mobil 1 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum. “I passed the leader every time – we were that fast… Drove back to North Carolina, still pissed, and Monday morning at about 10:15, I got a call from one of the guys who worked on the car.
“He said, ‘I know you’re still not happy. None of us are. We should have won that race, not trying to win $10,000, but just I thought this might make you laugh. We just got a call from Todd Parrott, who was driving to the race shop. He only lives about 12 miles from the race shop. He ran out of gas.’”