Earlier this week, Robert Yates Racing announced that Todd Parrott was once again taking over crew chief duties for Dale Jarrett and the No. 88 UPS Taurus. Parrott, who had been promoted to team manager, will replace Jimmy Elledge, who was hired...
Earlier this week, Robert Yates Racing announced that Todd Parrott was once again taking over crew chief duties for Dale Jarrett and the No. 88 UPS Taurus. Parrott, who had been promoted to team manager, will replace Jimmy Elledge, who was hired as crew chief during the off season. Elledge is still with the RYR organization, but Yates said he is free to pursue other opportunities. Yates spoke about the change before Friday's opening practice session.
ROBERT YATES, Car Owner --88-- UPS Taurus
WOULD YOU PLEASE TALK ABOUT THE CHANGE AND WHAT YOU FEEL IT WILL DO? "We made the change at the beginning of the year because we felt we had an opportunity to get Jimmy Elledge to join our team. He was a highly respected guy that we felt could bring more brain power and strength to all areas of our team. It was something that we felt we had to jump on. He wanted the crew chief title and Todd was certainly willing to do whatever it took to get him in, but the move wasn't designed to really move Todd, just to let him have more brain power and more right-hand and left-hand men. The title was fine, Todd was good with that, but it wasn't like we moved Todd to general manager of another team -- he didn't have any other jobs other than to focus on the 88 team.
"This was something we didn't want to turn down. Jimmy wanted the job. He came to us many times and talked to us and we probably talked to him some, I'm not sure exactly, but this was probably a year or two in the works. He wanted to move to Charlotte, it was a good opportunity for him so we jumped at it.
"It turned out to be like two roads back home where one is like Interstate 40 and the other one is like Interstate 20. Jimmy liked driving through the mountains and Todd liked driving through the valleys, or vice versa, and maybe there was too much overlapping. Jimmy wasn't pleased that he couldn't do it totally his way and he felt very strongly that his way would be the best way because his experience and knowledge taught him that. He saw a lot of things we did and I'm sure he learned from us just like we learned from him, but he wasn't content doing that and Todd wasn't content walking off because he basically still stayed in charge of the 88.
"Jimmy came and said, 'Give me something else to do that I can do with all my heart and all my might and the way I want to do it.' He doesn't want to leave the team. He hasn't left the team officially. I've told him he ought to go look and see what opportunities are out there and put them all on a sheet of paper, leaving me down at the bottom of that sheet, and we'll sit down and talk to him.
"We all like Jimmy. There are no hard feelings between us. I have squabbles with engine guys. Some of them want to do it this way or that way, but when I ran the engine shop I did it my way. Todd is gonna do it his way and he's earned that right. He's got six years of experience and he's got an extremely awesome track record -- it's probably about as good as anybody out here -- so we're not going against that.
"I've supported Todd from day one. I like Jimmy, but I'm not gonna do night meetings with Jimmy and do anything against Todd. All of the meetings are gonna be together and that's where we're at. It's really his choice. When you do something different you realize it might not work. We tried it and it didn't prove out to be as good for him.
"I think if we had been a little luckier in some situations -- bought a few better parts and had them on the car -- we'd probably be sitting here (in a different position). Jimmy feels like since we're down in the dumps in points and that never happened until he came here, he's taken a lot of that on his head. He shouldn't be, but, then again, he says, 'Facts are a fact. I'm there so I must be doing something wrong.' I just hope that Todd has found his horseshoe and can get us back to the luck it seemed like we had when he came here. At the same time you've got to be good, but we're focussed. The 88 team has got the best of all worlds -- the best sponsors, a top-notch crew chief, a top-notch driver and, hopefully, a top-notch engine deal. I don't know about the car owner (laughing), I don't think that matters too much, but we're not down in the dumps.
"We've kicked ourselves a little bit for not catching this part or that part being wrong, but we've looked at what we're doing differently. A year ago, we built a brand new car in our shop, brought it here (to Texas) and kicked everybody's butt with it. Nothing sits still. This thing keeps moving so do we need to run something different? Well, hopefully, we'll find out if we're on track with it, but that's what it is.
"It was a chance for Jimmy to move to Charlotte. He wanted to do some things and I gave him the opportunity. We talked about it for a number of years it seems like and finally we had the opportunity. I said, 'Come on, let's do it.' He wanted the crew chief job and we gave him that job. Todd stepped up and that's where we're at."
SO IS TODD TECHNICALLY DOING TWO JOBS NOW -- TEAM MANAGER AND CREW CHIEF -- OR WAS THIS JUST A JOB TITLE SHUFFLE TO BEGIN WITH? "I don't like team managers. I don't pay a team manager very much money, I just like people that work on race cars. What Jimmy thought was maybe two guys looking after race strategy, spring rates, tire pressures -- just two people working together. Well, they wanted to do something different with the chassis and, here we go, we're back to one system. You've still got to have good support people and I think we've got an awesome team. We'd like to have Jimmy as a part of it, but he'd rather do something different."