Parrott’s Return Proves Positive
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ Todd Parrott is back as crew chief and Dale Jarrett is already back near the front of the field.
Jarrett starts fifth Sunday in the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, where he is the defending champion.
Parrott was promoted to team manager in December when car owner Robert Yates hired Jimmy Elledge as crew chief. But Jarrett, who won 24 races in six years with Parrott, struggled with Elledge.
Jarrett has seven straight top-five finishes in season points since joining Robert Yates Racing. But through six races this year, he is 24th in points and has just one top-10 finish (seventh at Las Vegas).
Yates this week restored Parrott as crew chief. Elledge was told he could pursue other opportunities.
``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,″ Yates said. ``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.″
Jarrett qualified in the top 10 only two other times, the best being fourth at Rockingham, N.C., where he finished 42nd after an engine failure. He also had an engine failure at Darlington, S.C., where he was 40th before a 29th-place finish two weeks ago at Bristol, Tenn.
``We all like Jimmy. There are no hard feelings,″ Yates said. ``Todd has six years of experience and he’s got an extremely awesome track record, so we’re not going against that.″
NOT SO FAST: After Jeff Green qualified for this weekend’s Busch race at the resurfaced Texas Motor Speedway at 193.493 mph, there were concerns about how high the speeds would be for Cup qualifying.
But Bill Elliott’s pole speed for the Cup race was 194.224 mph.
A shorter wheelbase and decreased horsepower helped the Busch cars on the new surface.
``Sometimes they can carry a little more corner speed,″ driver Jeff Gordon said. ``Right now, we’ve got so much power that it’s lifting the nose of the car. It’s not allowing us to get through corner quite as fast as the Busch cars.″
The top three Busch qualifiers _ Jeff Green, Joe Nemechek and Johnny Sauter _ all beat Terry Labonte’s old Cup qualifying speed of 192.137 mph. The top 12 Cup qualifiers broke the old record.
STILL THE KING: Like everyone else, Kyle Petty refers to his father, Richard Petty, by his honorary name.
``I’m probably the only child in this country who calls his father The King,″ Kyle Petty said. ``I still call him The King. I just grew up around the race shop and everybody referred to him as The King. You pick up on it.″
Kyle Petty races for Petty Enterprises, the group started by his grandfather, Lee, and now run by his father who comes to most races.
``We’re probably closer now because we don’t do a lot of stuff together. I don’t mean that bad,″ Kyle Petty said. ``It’s not a competitive environment. We’re on the same side, working for the same thing. He gets in the middle of everything and has a lot of input.″
HISPANIC RACERS: The Hispanic Racing Team, the first NASCAR team with Hispanic owners and drivers, plans to run at least five Busch races this season after finally obtaining a primary sponsor.
Longtime CART driver Roberto Guerrero, twice the runner-up at the Indianapolis 500, will drive the HRT entry that will be sponsored by CICLON International, a Panama company that produces and distributes an energy drink.
``It’s been three long years, a lot of knocking on doors and a lot of doors slammed in our faces,″ Rudy Rodriguez, the team’s co-owner, said Saturday.
Rodriguez said the plans are to expand to a full Busch schedule in 2003. HRT also hopes to add a second Busch car driven by Jaime Guerrero, the younger brother of Roberto Guerrero.
SHAWNA’S BEST: Shawna Robinson, who last year became the first woman in 20 years to complete a Winston Cup race, has her best starting position.
Robinson qualified 16th at Texas, making the field for the fourth time in six races.
``I knew we had a good race car and we’ve built a team with some good chemistry. I don’t think there’s any question that we’ve proven we can qualify,″ Robinson said.
The next step is a better finish. Since a 24th-place showing at the Daytona 500, she hasn’t finished better than 32nd.