This Week in Ford Racing October 28, 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Todd Parrott, crew chief of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus, knows what it's like to win a NASCAR Winston Cup championship after helping Dale Jarrett to the title in 1999. Parrott recently...
This Week in Ford Racing
October 28, 2003
NASCAR Winston Cup
Todd Parrott, crew chief of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus, knows what it's like to win a NASCAR Winston Cup championship after helping Dale Jarrett to the title in 1999. Parrott recently spoke about what goes through a crew chief's mind when the season is winding down and his team is trying to protect a lead.
TODD PARROTT , Crew Chief - No. 38 M&M's Taurus
YOU HAD A BIG LEAD IN '99 MUCH LIKE THE 17 TEAM HAS HAD. WHAT'S IT LIKE TO TRY AND SEAL THE DEAL WITH A LEAD LIKE THAT? "You're just trying to make sure you've got all of your I's dotted and your T's crossed and just make sure you do everything right because you do have a good lead. The main thing is you want to make sure you finish and try to finish in the top 10. When you get a big lead like that, we got a little more nervous because you get that overconfident feeling that you've got such a big lead and can't be overtaken, but if you have a bad race or two all of a sudden things change and it gets a little closer. The main thing I think that they've done this year, like we did in '99, is that they haven't had any bad luck. They've had a lot of good racing luck. We had a lot of top 10s and a lot of top 5's in '99 and that's what they've done. They've been there every week even when they had trouble or a bad race. Richmond is a perfect example. They spun out twice, but still came back and finished in the top 10 and in order to win a championship that's what you have to do and they've done a great job of that all year."
SO YOU GET A LITTLE PARANOID EVEN WITH SUCH A BIG LEAD? "Oh yeah, absolutely. You probably worry more when you get a big lead than you do if you're behind or only have a five or 10 point lead. You don't think about as much as you do when you get that comfort zone."
HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A TEAM GO THROUGH A SEASON WITHOUT HAVING ANY MAJOR TROUBLE? "They've had things happen. They've had flat tires and things like that, but they've had that racing luck. They've got a good car and they've been able to put themselves back in position when they've had the bad luck. He hasn't had any bad crashes or any wrecks like that, but he's raced clean and he's raced smart. He's raced when it was time to race and that's the way Dale was in '99. He didn't push the issue until it got time to go and that's kind of the way you see Matt this year. The first part of the race he might be running around back there in 15th or 20th, but with 100 laps to go, boom, there he is in the top-5."
WHAT KIND OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE ROBBIE RIGHT NOW WITH ONLY A FEW RACES TO GO? "Just keep doing what he's done all year long. Don't change anything. Keep the morale and the routine the same. Don't try to change anything and don't get conservative. I told Robert and Doug Yates in '99 that the way you go and win the championship is to go out and try to win races. If you try to get conservative like we did in '97 - when we got closer we got a little conservative and started worrying about points - you don't race as hard. If you race and do the same plan every week and race to win, the points are gonna fall where they're gonna fall. Nine times out of 10, if you do that and you have a good strong team like they have, they're gonna finish in the top 10."
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU FINALLY RELAX IN '99? "At Homestead when the thing was over. Even up to the last lap at Homestead, we had a pretty good car and even though we had the championship locked up, Dale was running the leaders down and I was on him. I was telling him, 'Get up on that wheel and go get those guys.' We ended up finishing third or fourth that day, but you've got to race to win and try to do the best you can. That's what Matt and Robbie Reiser and their team has done all year long. They've been the most consistent team and the way the point system is the most consistent team is the team that gets awarded the most points and that's what they've done all year."
THE FEELING WHEN IT'S ALL OVER? "It's like you've taken the Empire State Building off your shoulders. It's a big relief to know you've accomplished something that not many people have been able to accomplish. You've put yourself in an elite group and it's something very special. This is why we all race, to win a championship. Everybody wants to win races, but that big trophy and sitting at the head table in New York in December is what we all work for all year long. Those guys have done a great job and right, wrong or indifferent, they deserve to be there and I think with the races we have left you're gonna see them do the same thing that they've done all year long."