Bristol II: Elliott Sadler, Todd Parrott interview

TODD PARROTT, Crew Chief - No. 38 M&M's Taurus - HOW DID THIS ALL COME ABOUT? "I just want to tell everybody to start off that I'm back home. I've had a little time off and I sat at home and spent a lot of time with my kids over the summer,...

TODD PARROTT, Crew Chief - No. 38 M&M's Taurus - HOW DID THIS ALL COME ABOUT? "I just want to tell everybody to start off that I'm back home. I've had a little time off and I sat at home and spent a lot of time with my kids over the summer, resting and charging my batteries back up. I've pursued a couple of job opportunities, but through this whole deal I just felt like if I sit there and wait my time out that sooner or later that phone call would come and somebody would want me to come back home. Me and Robert have been talking for a couple of weeks and I'm really excited. I'm glad to be back at Robert Yates Racing. More than anything, I'm excited to be working with Elliott Sadler on this M&M's team and working with Raymond Fox. I've always told Robert that I had a great group of guys in the past, but if I had some people like Raymond Fox and a bunch of those guys back at the shop, they have a real strong race team and I'm really excited to be here and glad to be back."

HOW LONG OF A DEAL IS THIS?

"Hopefully this is for another 10 years. This is my home. I feel like Robert Yates Racing is the place in 1996 when I came over here I helped build the 88 car. I was a part of that and feel like I helped build that to where it is today and that helped Robert Yates Racing get to where it is today. Hopefully I can take this race team and do the same things that I was able to do with that race team and win a lot of races and, hopefully, win a championship."

WHAT HAPPENED BACK IN APRIL?

"There was some communication problems. There were some issues I had that I needed to get taken care of and I just needed some time off to get it all taken care of. I'm rested up, got some problems out of the way, and I'm glad to be back."

HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO HEAR SOME OF THE COMMENTS THAT WERE MADE WHEN YOU LEFT? DALE SAID LAST WEEK THAT MAYBE HE PUT TOO MUCH OF THE BLAME ON YOU.

"Like I said before, my comments when I came to Daytona (in July) and I made the comments that I made. I had nothing bad to say about Robert Yates Racing. I had nothing bad to say about Dale Jarrett or anybody on this race team. There were just some issues and some problems that we had and they were just problems that needed to be worked out. It took time to get things worked out, but, like I said, I felt like I wasn't the main problem but there were some things they needed to see and needed to see if there was a better way to do it. We've all come together and we're excited to be back racing together."

ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus (Qualified 17th)

DOES THIS SHAKE-UP CONCERN YOU?

"I tell you, I'm not really looking at it like that. I'm looking at it as racing is changing so much. I think we all know that with all the gas mileage races we've had here lately. It seems like the fastest car doesn't always win, so there are so many more things going on right now with the race team every Sunday, so we feel like bringing Todd on is just bringing that much more depth to the race team and that much more experience. It's hard on just one guy to sit up there and worry about pit strategy. Can we go the rest of the way on fuel? Do we just do two tires? Who is doing what? Plus, listen to the driver whine. Trying to fix the car. Is it too loose? Is it too tight? Sometimes you might miss something that's going on, so this co-crew chief, or with Todd coming in with the experience and Raymond working with him, it's gonna give us a lot more opportunities to make good decisions on Sunday and try to catch up to the game that way. I think if you look at the 29 car when they put Gil Martin and Todd Berrier both of them side-by-side up on top of the box, their team has just taken off. Same thing with the 24 car and Robby (Loomis) and Brian Whitesell. You've got a lot of teams - Tony Glover and (Lee) McCall.

ELLIOTT SADLER: "You've got a lot of teams that have a lot more strong minds on the box every Sunday to make better decisions, not only for strategy but what the changes will do to the car. I just think Todd brings a world of depth to this race team, plus he's been here. He's been with Robert Yates a long time. He knows this system inside and out and we can't think of a better person to add to our race team."

HAS THIS SUMMER BEEN ENOUGH TIME TO WORK OUT WHAT YOU NEEDED TO WORK OUT?

TODD PARROTT: "Oh yeah. I'm good. I'm rested up and I'm ready to go. I'm excited. I'm like a kid going back to school for the first day. I put my kid back in school on Monday and I went back to school on Wednesday. I didn't sleep a wink Tuesday night. I kept rolling over every 30 minutes looking at the clock saying, 'Man, is the bus here yet?' So I'm excited and glad to be back."

HOW MUCH HAVE THE TWO OF YOU BEEN ABLE TO TALK ABOUT THIS?

TODD PARROTT "We talked some this week on the phone and we got right to business. I think the first question Todd asked me was, 'What car do you want to take to Darlington and what do you want to do with it?' So we haven't really gotten into how excited we are about this, that and the other. That's what I like about him, the first question he asked was performance-based. 'OK, we've already got our Bristol stuff ready to go. This is what we think we need to do for Darlington - to go there and try to sit on the pole again.' So we've kind of just stepped right into it and kind of hit the ground running, so I'm kind of looking forward for that part to come."

YOU'VE TRIED A COUPLE OF OTHER JOBS, BUT IS IT A CASE WHERE REALLY BEING A CREW CHIEF IS WHAT YOU ARE?

TODD PARROTT "Yeah. That's what I am. That's what I do. I tried the deal in 2001 and I thought I was ready for that - being the team manager type and sitting back and not calling the shots - but I guess the situation just didn't work out and I jumped back in there and we took off. Things just happened. From December to April I felt like a fish out of water, so to speak. We had two great race teams and I kept bags packed and I was going from the fab shop up to the chassis shop. I spent more time on Talbert Road than I did in either one of the shops riding back and forth. That's what I told Robert and Doug this week when I talked to them. I said, 'I'd love to come back. I want to come back, but when we sit down and talk I want to know what my job is and I want everybody to feel good about what I'm doing. I just want to know what it is.' Robert talked about this situation here and I said, 'Man, that's great.' Give me a mission. I'm a mission guy. That's what I want, to have my focus on one thing and my focus is on this 38 car and trying to win races and championships."

WHAT'S HAPPENED TO RYR OVER THE LAST YEAR?

"I think that Robert has done a great job. Robert has been there every day ever since I left - 12-14 hours a day - the man has put his heart and soul. He's done no different than he has the whole time I've been with him, but since I've been gone they've tried a lot of things. I think they've learned what works and what doesn't work and, hopefully, I'm coming in at a time where they've got some things ironed out and we can focus on the racing part of it now. I'm excited. Like I said, Robert has worked his guts out all year long and he always has. Hopefully, this will add depth to the 38 team and we can go on."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS CHANGE COMING TO THIS RACE TRACK?

ELLIOTT SADLER: "I'm pretty excited about this whole weekend to start with because of all the news and things we've gone through this week, but, yes, this is close to home. Everybody who knows Elliott Sadler knows that this is my favorite race track and this is my favorite race. Man, I didn't sleep at all last night either - one, because of this press conference this morning (laughing) - and two, because I just really love this race track. It's fair to you. It's not an aero game. It's not a gas mileage game. It's pure hard racing between the crew chief and the driver and who can get their best stuff going. That's why I like this track. It's a fair race track, so I always get up for this race."

WILL YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY NOW THAN YOU DID BEFORE?

TODD PARROTT: "No, hopefully it's the same old same old. I started my first race in 1996 as a crew chief and came out and won the Daytona 500. So my goal is to come out and win the Sharpie 500 my first race back." HAVE YOU MADE ANY BIG CHANGES SINCE COMING ON BOARD? "Absolutely not. They've got a great race team and a great organization. They've got a lot of things in place and I'm not coming in here to change a lot of things. I'm not doing that. I just want to come in and add depth, add stuff on race day to the pit box. Me and Raymond work close together. It's almost like Elliott said, it's almost like a co-crew chief situation. Somebody has got to have the crew chief title I guess. I'm not into titles. Robert's not into titles. I just want to race and win trophies and that's what it's all about. Me and Raymond Fox are gonna work close together in sort of a co-crew chief situation. That's the way I'm looking at it."

DID YOU KNOW SOMETHING LIKE THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN?

ELLIOTT SADLER: "I think Robert and Doug, me and DJ have been talking to them about adding depth to this race team - giving this team a go-to guy for bodies and chassis and what direction we need to go in. Poor Robert, we were running him ragged trying to go from place to place to place to try to fix or repair or kind of give us a direction to go in. So we have talked about getting a go-to guy to come into this race team and give us some leadership and some depth. So who that person was gonna be or what position they were gonna have never really came up, but after we had been talking, Todd was just an obvious choice to come back and be a part of this race team some way, some how. Then it was up to Doug and Robert to figure out what position he would best benefit the whole organization. We think this is his best role and his best title. He has great success as a crew chief. The stats speak for themselves, so that's kind of how the decision process came along and that's how we're here today."

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF ELLIOTT AS A DRIVER?

TOOD PARROTT: "If you look back, Elliott's got a lot of talent. I said coming in when we first started talking in 2002 to Elliott - when that whole situation came about. I was in the motorhome and did a lot of talking with him and Dale and Robert and Fatback. We all sat together and Elliott has a lot of talent. He's young. He's got a lot of enthusiasm and I think it's a great mix. You look at Kurt Busch-Jimmy Fennig. You take a veteran-type crew chief and put him with a young driver and, hopefully, you'll have success. Hopefully, the experience that I have will rub off and, like I said, working with him I'm real excited."

IS THERE ANY CONCERN ABOUT DIVIDED LOYALTY WITH THE 88 TEAM?

"No, none at all. I'm excited to be back at Robert Yates Racing working with Shawn Parker, Dale Jarrett, Elliott Sadler - everybody involved. I've been in the 88 hauler three times this morning. I walked up in there and it felt like home to me, so that's the way I'm gonna treat it. What's happened in the past is the past. This is the future and we're moving on with the future."

HAS THIS YEAR'S PROBLEMS BEEN MORE CHASSIS-TYPE OF THINGS OR LEADERSHIP?

ELLIOTT SADLER: "I think the biggest part, like I said before, is we didn't really have a go-to guy. The crew chiefs just didn't really have somebody to go to with a strong backbone and say, 'This is the way our bodies need to be. This is the way our chassis need to be. This is the area we're getting beat in.' We just needed that one person to come in and I think Robert and Doug have made the decision with Todd to do that. As far as Raymond and the communication things, I think things have been great all year long. You have to remember now, this is Raymond's first year as a crew chief and he's done this for like two months with no car chief too, so there's been a lot on his shoulders too. I think that's why we needed more depth in this race team. I named a couple of examples of other teams that are going this route and Robert and Doug feel this is a route this race team needs to go in to be successful in the future, so why not bring in somebody that has more career wins at Robert Yates Racing than anybody else. That's kind of the attitude we have with it and kind of the direction we wanted to go."

HAVE YOU AND DALE TALKED YET?

TODD PARROTT: "No, we haven't sat down and talked. I actually went by when I got here last night and stopped by his motorhome. I knocked on the door, but he wasn't in. He was probably out to dinner or something, but I'm looking forward to seeing him. I can honestly say that I've missed Dale Jarrett and everybody at Robert Yates Racing. Like I said, what's happened in the past, that's the past. All the stuff that was said, that's water under the bridge to me. I'm ready to move on."

-FORD RACING

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Kurt Busch , Shawn Parker , Robert Yates , Elliott Sadler
Teams Yates Racing