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Motorsports

Parrotts pushed off RYR merry-go-round

By JOANNE KORTH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 15, 2003

The big wigs at Robert Yates Racing have not done much lately to encourage Winston Cup crew chiefs to submit a resume for the current opening on Dale Jarrett's team.

But plenty will.

Count on it.

The lure of working with a former champion overrides the possibility of joining a rapidly growing list of Jarrett's former crew chiefs. It's worth the risk, even if the job only lasts a couple of months, which, let's face it, it might.

What a soap opera RYR has become.

Last week's episode featured brothers Brad and Todd Parrott. In a move that shocked the Winston Cup garage, Brad Parrott was fired as Jarrett's crew chief after eight races, and Todd Parrott took an indefinite leave of absence as director of competition.

"I'm looking for someone that has more of the answers than coming to me after a bad day of qualifying saying, 'What do you want to put in the car for the race?"' said Jarrett, driver of the No.88 Ford and among the sport's most popular veterans. "My answer was, 'At the top of my contract it says driver."'

Brad Parrott, hired Friday to be Jeff Burton's car chief at Roush Racing, claimed he was not given the chance to express his opinions. Dissension set in during a test session at Texas Motor Speedway.

"I stayed out by the car and worked on the car at Texas and went in the truck, and there were four guys telling Dale what the race car needed, so I turned around and walked back out," said Parrott, who won five races last year as Burton's crew chief in the Busch Grand National series. "I never once had the opportunity to put a Brad Parrott setup underneath the race car."

In previous episodes of As RYR Turns:

Todd Parrott was Jarrett's crew chief from 1996-2001, during which time the pair produced 24 victories, including two Daytona 500s, and the 1999 championship. But, according to Jarrett, problems in Parrott's personal life began to hamper his performance.

For 2002, Parrott moved to team manager and Jimmy Elledge was hired as crew chief. Elledge was released after six races, and Parrott returned to the crew chief role.

For 2003, RYR moved into a new shop in Mooresville, N.C., bringing its two teams -- the 88 and 38 of Elliott Sadler -- under the same roof for the first time. Todd Parrott moved back to management to oversee both teams, and Brad Parrott was hired as crew chief.

It lasted two months.

Jarrett won at Rockingham but failed to crack the top 10 in the next six races. Richard Buck and Garth Finley will run the team until a replacement is found. Jarrett finished 20th Sunday at Martinsville, dropping one place to 13th in the standings.

And this latest mess has nothing to do with last year's RYR saga involving Ricky Rudd, Robert Yates, Sadler and Michael McSwain that dismantled a championship-caliber race team, the No.28. McSwain, one of the series best crew chiefs, fled to Joe Gibbs Racing.

Raymond Fox is Sadler's crew chief.

Among those being mentioned as candidates for Jarrett's crew chief is Robin Pemberton, long-time crew chief for Rusty Wallace who recently took a job with Ford. But Jarrett said Friday, two days after Brad's dismissal, that RYR's phone was ringing off the hook.

"We've got more friends than we ever thought we had," Jarrett said.

Brave ones, too.

A BUDDING BUSCH: Kyle Busch, 17-year-old brother of Cup driver Kurt Busch, made a dandy debut with Hendrick Motorsports. He led 83 of 113 laps to win the ARCA event Saturday at Nashville Superspeedway, beating veteran Frank Kimmel for his first series victory.

Kyle Busch, who turns 18 on May 2, will compete in six Busch races this season, driving the No.87 Chevrolet owned by Hendrick driver Joe Nemechek. He will compete full time in the series next season.

NEW-AGE DEBATE: One year after the "young guns" versus "old veterans" debate raged in Winston Cup, no one currently in the top 10 in the standings is 40 or older. Sterling Marlin is the first 40-something, ranked 12th.

THE BIG QUESTION: Will Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip, who has dropped four places to eighth the past two weeks, still be in the top 10 when he turns 40 on April 30?

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