Daytona Test Session, January 8, 2002 Daytona International Speedway Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, has a new crew chief in Jimmy Elledge this season after Todd Parrott was promoted to team manager in December. All three men...
Daytona Test Session, January 8, 2002 Daytona International Speedway
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, has a new crew chief in Jimmy Elledge this season after Todd Parrott was promoted to team manager in December. All three men spoke about the change and how they feel it will impact their 2002 season.
DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus
IS THIS MIXED TEST SESSION A GOOD WAY OF DETERMINING WHICH TEAMS ARE GOING TO BE GOOD DURING SPEEDWEEKS? "Probably so. You're still not gonna know exactly what's going on through testing, but it gives you a better idea because you are here with them. Before, when everybody was here at different times, the weather made a lot of difference so it was hard to make comparisons, but now that we're here with them we have a better idea."
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE HERE BREAKING IN A NEW CREW CHIEF? "It's working well. Jimmy is very knowledgeable. It's not like it's somebody I don't know and haven't watched for awhile. I know Jimmy is gonna be very good for this race team. He's fun and he's easy to work with, and he's willing to try a lot of things. He and Todd are working well together and I think it's gonna make a great combination."
DO YOU TAKE ON A BIGGER BURDEN NOW AS FAR AS MAKING CALLS WITH THE CHASSIS? "I don't think so. What I need to find out is how much information Jimmy wants. I found out early on what Todd was after, so that's the way we kind of kept things. I'll just have to see how much information and what triggers Jimmy's mind as far as what he's thinking about. That will be the only thing we have to work through, but I don't see that as being a problem at all. I think what probably is going to take place through our tests in January is that he's gonna get an idea of what I'm looking to feel in the car and what I'm talking about. Whenever we talk about communication, different drivers relay things in different ways, so we're gonna try to get that out of the way in January. Once we get to that level, then I'll trust him to make the decisions from there just like I have with Todd for all of these years."
YOU WERE PRETTY BEAT UP AT THE END OF LAST YEAR. HOW DO YOU FEEL PHYSICALLY NOW? "A lot better. The month of December has been good for me. I've been able to get back to a harder workout program than what I was doing before, so I feel like I'm stronger. It's been really nice. I don't know that anything other than my right wrist still bothers me at times. It's not anything that's gonna affect me, but I feel much better. It was difficult. I didn't realize until it was over just how tired I was from getting beat up and what it took out of me to do all of that."
THIS TRACK HAS BEEN GOOD TO YOU. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO COME DOWN HERE? "It's always fun because this is where we get things started. I generally know that when we come here we've got a good chance of winning and getting our year really started off well and that's an exciting way to start the season. If it were somewhere that we didn't perform as well over the years, then we might not be quite as excited, but this is a fun place to come. Daytona has gotten even bigger than it was when I first started here and since I last won a race here, so that makes it even more exciting to get things started."
WERE YOU ANXIOUS TO GET BACK HERE AND GET STARTED? "Yeah, I was ready to start, but I could have stood another 10 or 15 days of not doing a lot. I've got a lot going on at home with our new office building. I would have liked to had more time to get that going because the project ran a little over, but I'm glad to be back in a race car. That's what I do. The month of December was good for me physically and once I realized I was physically fit again, that helped me get excited about being back in the car."
JIMMY ELLEDGE, Crew Chief --88-- UPS Taurus
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRY AN ACCOMPLISH THIS WEEK? "Hopefully, the biggest thing is just to add something to this race team. They've had great speedway cars and great speedway success and I don't want to come in and turn everything upside-down. I want to keep doing what they've done in the past and see if there's anything I can add. I want to just kind of ease my way into the program and get to know everybody."
IS COMMUNICATION WITH DALE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE? "Here, you're not really gonna do a lot of communicating because it's basically just speed. Either the car drives good or it doesn't based upon a change, so this is really just kind of a get-to-know everybody session and then when we go to Vegas, that will be more of a test of the feedback and communication between Dale and I. You're still learning to some degree here, but not as much as you will at other places."
IS THIS A CASE WHERE YOU HAVE TO MAKE MOST OF THE ADJUSTMENTS BECAUSE YOU'RE NEW? "Absolutely. I've got to learn what he means when by loose. How loose is it? The beauty of this whole thing is that Todd is still here. Todd can say, 'Hey, you need to do a lot or you don't have to do a lot.' Like I said, hopefully I'm just here to add to it and take what Todd has done and try to make it a little better."
IS TODD SERVING AS KIND OF A TRANSLATOR FOR YOU? "That's exactly what it is and the other thing is that for three years I've worked on a team where the consequences weren't so great if we ran bad. They are here. Over there, if we were running bad we would just try something. If we ran 30th, we learned something. Well, we don't have that ability to make those mistakes here because when you're running for a championship you've got to be perfect. Todd's knowledge will help that because I'm probably more aggressive than he is, but his experience will help blend that in. He'll be able to let me know when we need to back off and stay on course, so it should be pretty neat. It's getting so hard to do this on your own as a crew chief. The teams are getting such large numbers of people and there are so many things going on with so many different programs that it's hard for one person to keep up with it all."
DO YOU ANTICIPATE ANY KIND OF LEARNING CURVE GOING FROM A CHEVROLET TO A FORD? "Sure, but it's not as difficult as everybody might think. A lot of the same aero rules apply and there are a lot of really neat things about the Ford I like already, but there are obviously sensitive areas in it that I'll have to learn, but the great thing about this sport is change. Everything keeps changing. It seems you have different spoiler and valance rules every week, so you've got to learn new things. I feel it will be easier to adapt than one might think."
TODD PARROTT, Team Manager --88-- UPS Taurus
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THIS CHANGE? "This is more of a decision to help our team. It's not for me to get off the road or for me to get off the pit box. I'm still gonna be up on the pit box to make everything clear with everybody. I'm still gonna be on that pit box helping Jimmy make calls on race day. I'm going to all of the races. I'll be at the race track each and every week. I may not go to all the tests. I may stay back and get things more organized at the shop, but it was just a situation that as our sport grows and the more races we have, one person can't do it all by himself anymore. We have two really good crew chiefs in Jimmy and Michael. Jimmy is young and aggressive and we just wanted to bring in some fresh talent."
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BRING SOMEONE LIKE JIMMY TO THIS TEAM? "It means a lot. I've known Jimmy all my life. We grew up around each other. When I worked for Rusty Wallace in the eighties and nineties, Jimmy was just a young kid getting his start on Dale Earnhardt's car and we were always parked beside each other in the garage. Jimmy was a hard worker and he's a racer. His dad is a great engine builder and he comes from a family with a great racing heritage and that's kind of the way I was brought up and the way Robert and Doug Yates were brought up, so it's just a perfect fit for our organization."
HOW CAN THIS THREE HEADS ARE BETTER THAN TWO CONCEPT BE MOST BENEFICIAL? "I think this will give us a lot of fresh and different ideas. We've gotten so used to doing things one way for six years, but the sport is growing. Times are changing and the cars are changing, so it's good to have some new ideas. Jimmy is somebody who doesn't have a real big ego. He's a racer. All he wants to do is win and do whatever it takes to win. He's got a great attitude and I'm really looking forward to working with him. All of the guys in the shop like him and I think it's going to be a big positive for our team in 2002."
DO YOU VIEW YOURSELF AS KIND OF A TRANSLATOR FOR JIMMY AT THIS STAGE? "Oh yeah. Jimmy and I are actually rooming together this week. I could have had my own room, but we're staying together and talking about things. I've told him the sort of things that Dale likes and we've already had a couple of good examples during the first day that have helped, so we're already learning some things."
WHAT OTHER THINGS ARE YOU GOING TO CONCENTRATE ON AT THE TRACK? "I want to concentrate on what our car is doing on certain areas of the race track, not necessarily constantly worrying if something is gonna go wrong on the race car. Jimmy is gonna be there to take care of that race car and make sure everything is done right. Hopefully, I can bring some things that my dad has brought to the sport by being up on top of that box or up in the stands watching that car on the race track. Hopefully, this is just gonna add to our race team and make it stronger."
Go to: part two