Robert Yates Racing announced earlier this week that crew chief Brad Parrott had been released and Todd Parrott was placed on an indefinite leave of absence. UPS Ford driver Dale Jarrett and Robert Yates Racing's General Manager Doug Yates spoke...
Robert Yates Racing announced earlier this week that crew chief Brad Parrott had been released and Todd Parrott was placed on an indefinite leave of absence. UPS Ford driver Dale Jarrett and Robert Yates Racing's General Manager Doug Yates spoke about the change in the Martinsville Infield Media Center before Friday morning's practice session.
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DOUG YATES , General Manager - No. 88 UPS Taurus:
"When you start off the year you come together with a plan that you think you're gonna need to give your team them best chance to win a championship and win races. We started out in a positive way by finishing 10th at Daytona and won Rockingham, but ever since then it's kind of like the wheels have come off. It hasn't been heading in the direction that we feel it needs to in order to give our team and Dale Jarrett what he needs to be competitive on a weekly basis, so we just decided that with the way we saw it going that it was time to make some changes."
DALE JARRETT - No. 88 UPS Taurus:
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN A CREW CHIEF?
"I guess first and foremost, and this isn't to say that Brad Parrott wasn't, but someone that supports and believes in me as a driver first off. Again, that's not to say that Brad didn't do that, but I'm looking for someone that has more of the answers than coming to me after we get through qualifying - and here this year after a bad day of qualifying - saying, 'What do you want to put in the car for the race?' My answer was, and it wasn't made to be a smart-aleck answer, but at the top of my contract it says 'driver'.
"I'm to give input as to what I feel with the race car. I don't think there's any driver out here telling his team what springs and shocks to put in that race car. So that's what I'm looking for, someone that can come in with the leadership capabilities and abilities, such as Todd Parrott had for a long time. I could relate for Todd Parrott for quite a while. But, as we know, starting even before last year, that Todd has had some personal problems that have really hampered his abilities to do the things that he needs to do.
"There has been a little bit of, not really lack of communication, but lack of support on his part towards me and that created somewhat of a problem. That's why we made changes to change them around, so that they could work together - put Todd in a position basically over everything - but I haven't felt like my cars, not just this year but for the last year-and-a-half or so, aero-wise have been what I need to compete with.
"The car that we built last year, that ran so well and we won both of our races with and the one we basically everytime we competed well with, actually was a body that we cut off of that car originally before it was ever raced. Michael McSwain came down to our race shop. He and Robert Yates walked our guys through what we needed to do to that race car and that was the only car. Everytime that we made changes from there to try and improve that, we didn't improve that. We've just found a lot of things here as we've started doing some checking that as we try to make these cars similar, that there are a lot of differences. I don't think it was a plan that we had that both would happen at the same time.
"We didn't want any changes, but, as we looked at our performance, we realized that we weren't getting things accomplished so changes had to be made. Coincidentally, it happened with Brad and Todd in the same week."
WERE YOU MORE COMFORTABLE WITH RAYMOND'S SETUPS? YOU SAID AFTER WINNING ROCKINGHAM THAT YOU USED THE 38 SETUP.
"I don't know because we really haven't had anything else at any other time. Let me just say this, yeah, that's what we used at Rockingham and we didn't get any practice so you can't really say that we've done anything much on our own. Brad did make good adjustments at Rockingham because the car wasn't exactly right when we started so we made good adjustments. Give him a lot of credit there, but we went to a Texas test and basically spent three days there because we got rained out one day. Whenever it got back to the time to practice for the race, my car wasn't even the same as what we had when we left there.
"We had agreed it was gonna be exactly like that when we left there to start practice on Saturday morning, but it wasn't even like that. There were changes for no good reasons given and it was different. The 38 used nothing that we tested there, so they didn't benefit anything from what we did and, as it turned out, we didn't benefit. We used something that we had tested there, but it was totally the wrong thing to do, so we just felt like there were decisions that weren't being made properly.
"I think that now we have moved in a direction, it just seems like maybe there were conflicts. A lot of information was shared between the two teams. Raymond and Shawn have been more than gracious to open up, and Elliott too, for everything that they have - trying to help us, but that information wasn't totally being used in our camp."
WHAT IS THE LONG-TERM PLAN FOR A CREW CHIEF?
"Right now I guess there's a vacancy sign up and we're just gonna explore our options. What we want first and foremost is somebody that believes in Dale Jarrett because we do. Dale is our driver. We are just gonna see what's out there. Hopefully, in the interim we can give him what he wants and work well with out teammates to get us through and, hopefully, we can perform well. If somebody steps up from within and does a good job, we'll explore that option as well."
DO YOU THINK SOME CREW CHIEFS MIGHT BE HESITANT OF COMING OVER AFTER TWO CHANGES IN AS MANY YEARS?
"I think the one factor that's kind of still hanging in the balance is Todd. An indefinite leave of absence, which I'm sure somebody may ask what that means, but right now we're taking time to evaluate our program and Todd is taking some time to evaluate himself personally and professionally. If something comes along that we would like to go forward with, we'll let him know and, likewise, if he wants to take another opportunity. We'll see. Thirty days down the road, if we can't live without him, we may explore that option as well, but right now we're going forward with our program.
"With Todd out of the way, so to speak, I think that's gonna open up people's eyes to see that this organization is changing. Hopefully, with myself taking a new role in this organization, they'll see we're trying to go down a different path and trying to understand this vehicle and engineer it and to give these two teams what they need."
WAS THIS A JOINT DECISION?
"This was a decision that was based on facts and a lot of discussion between Doug and Robert and myself. This wasn't anything that was pushed on me and I don't think it was anything that I pushed on them. I think we all had similar ideas that things we needed to do and changes that needed to be made. I appreciate the support that I've obviously gotten from Robert and Doug and everyone at the shop. It's been tremendous, but this is a decision that has to be made by everyone and we all have to be in agreement with what we're doing and the direction that we need to go with.
"I know it may look like this weekend, after losing two key people, that we may be in disarray. By the end of Sunday it may look like that and seem like that, but we certainly hope not because we think we've put together a pretty good plan. But this was something we felt very strongly about, that we needed to do to move forward for the future."
WHAT IS THE PLAN FOR THIS WEEKEND?
"The majority of the people that we have here are very experienced racers. The one exception to that is Richard Buck, but Richard has experience in other areas like Indy cars, and he also has a little experience with Winston Cup racing. He's a very smart individual and as we sat and talked we were very impressed with his knowledge. He's someone who is not gonna try to do more than what he feels he's capable of doing. His job basically is gonna be to watch and call the race.
"Adjustment-wise and those type of things are gonna be handled by Garth (Finley) and the individuals that we have in their respective places. He'll speak with our tire specialist, with our shock guys and everybody will just do their job and kind of report to Garth and he'll move from there, and I'll have my input. We actually think we've put together a pretty good plan that might actually make things a little more efficient within our pit area."
ROBIN PEMBERTON IS A NAME THAT HAS POPPED UP. WOULD HE BE A POSSIBILITY?
"We really haven't discussed anyone in particular. As Doug said, we're kind of taking the attitude right now that we feel like we have something that's pretty good. We're well prepared for the next three races that we have coming. Obviously, we have a break here and things could change if someone came that we felt was the exact person that was gonna fit that, but we think we can kind of sit and see what's gonna happen here and really give the guys that we have here that opportunity.
"As Doug was alluding to, we may have the right combination just in what we have. I know with Robin being part of the Ford group already that would be something obvious, but, again, Doug is getting a lot of calls and we've got more friends than we ever thought we had, so we'll just kind of see what goes from there."