Parrott to stay with Yates

Todd Parrott isn't going anywhere - in fact, he's decided that if given the opportunity, he'll be with Robert Yates Racing for a very long time, maybe even a "lifetime." The rumor mill has been working overtime since Talladega, and Parrott isn't pleased that his one free weekend to celebrate Easter with his family was interrupted by phone calls. He spent part of his off-time reading all about it.

Parrott to stay with Yates

"There are a lot of rumors going around about me leaving," Parrott said during a question and answer session on Saturday at California Speedway. "I read them all weekend during Easter. "Over Easter vacation I got phone calls. It was aggravating. They keep adding races and we don't get very many weekends off and all I do is get phone calls about what I'm gonna do and where I'm gonna go."

Parrott surmised the rumor started when "somebody saw me talking to Felix Sabates, that was one of the big ones, right before the race at Talladega. To Felix, thank you for the offer but I'm not interested." As crew chief for the defending NASCAR Winston Cup Series Champion, Dale Jarrett, Parrott is under the media microscope because the #88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Taurus hasn't been dominating, and winning week after week. Quite possibly, the incredible success of the Gordon/Evernham years set the bar so high, it's a little difficult to understand just how nine different drivers have won in the first nine races this season.

"We've had a little bad luck this year," Parrott explained. "We've run great at some races. We're defending champions so everybody expects us to go out every week and win every race. "Well, it's not happening this year. Everybody is winning a lot of races, a lot of different winners, so competition is tougher than it's ever been. Parrott alluded to the fact that the flames may have been fanned in order to create interest which would further distract the entire team. He also more or less chastised those members of the media who seemed determined to break the Big Story That Didn't Exist.

"With the amount of races and time that we have, any distractions at all take away and I think some of that is a ploy from others. "They know that, but it would be nice that, at some point in time, instead of all the rumor going and starting in one place, you'd get to the source. I did a conference call not long ago and told you exactly what was going on, but it continued. "I guess you have a week off and you don't have a race to write about, so there's gotta be something to write about."

Jarrett, still a little 'gun shy' after some comments made to the media about the quality of the racing in the first two events, spoke with some hesitation lest he be roasted once more. "Since I knew we were gonna do this," said Jarrett, "I've been wondering exactly how to handle it. I guess I'll, against what I really want to say inside because that got me in trouble not long ago, I'm gonna say that it can be a tough business. You have to understand these guys work day and night. But, when I speak I'm not just saying something to be saying it, I'm saying it because it's a fact.

"It's a shame we have to be sitting here right now. I enjoy talking to you and we normally do something on Saturday mornings, but it's a shame these guys have to be here. It's nice that we can be here and tell you that we're gonna be together for a long time and anything else that you hear, or anything else that is said, is not true. I do know that we have agreed on a contract through 2004 with me being there also, so I'm excited about that. I'm just excited to be a part of this, but I hope this can put to rest some of the talk and we can go about our business and try to win races." Robert Yates feels the team is "on track" despite some bad luck and the appearance of frustration at times.

"It used to be where, if you won the Daytona 500, that made your entire year and nowadays every week is more and more pressure. I think everybody is forgetting we pretty much dominated Speedweeks and have sat on two poles, it's just that we created our own monster by raising the bar for ourselves. "If you look at that part of it and look at the second place where we were real close to winning at Darlington -- I think we're on track. We've had some bad luck here, but like I said, it's good for us to set this straight right now and get back to racing and doing what we do best."

Parrott addressed another issue that has been the focus of some comments of late. "Like Dale said, what you need to do when you all hear these rumors is you need to go to the source. Don't go to another race team and ask them about it because they don't know what they're talking about. The best thing to do is go to the source. The deal that happened at Texas, man, that was an accident. We were at the wrong place at the wrong time, our car wasn't very good and it just so happened that Ricky was there. At Martinsville, it was bumper cars. There were 43 cars out there totally demolished after the race and these guys have been working day and night since Martinsville to go to Richmond.

"It's just one of them deals, it's racing. There's no conflict (between the 88 and 28 teams). Me and Michael McSwain have been riding together all weekend long talking about chassis setups. I even asked him this morning, I said, 'Are you sure you want to ride with me,' because we didn't do too well. "I think we get along really well. Ricky Rudd has got a lot of talent and we're getting a lot of feedback and that's what we need. That's what the two teams have not had in the past few years." One last rumor that has attracted a great deal of attention in the past few weeks was that Yates has been talking with other possible sponsors for the #88 team.

"We've had this team since we talked about beginning this in 1996. We put two cars in (Victory Circle in) the Daytona 500. As the sport goes along, we have to fund it and we have great sponsors in Ford Quality Care and Ford Credit. "I've always said that I want to negotiate before my final year because in the final year of a sponsorship," said Yates, with a impish smile, "I might take the money to the house instead of spending on the race team. "I'm being very honest with my sponsors. We happened to be in a negotiating year last year, so we looked around. To be fair with our sponsors, we've given them fair time to look at what they want to do and that's still out. We certainly have talked to a couple of wonderful sponsors, one that has just joined NASCAR. I think they would do things in the class that we'd like to do, but, certainly, Ford is among the top in the world, too.

"We're just trying to be fair to them, give them what they're paying for. There are no deals done. I wish this were October or November, we might go ahead and finalize that, but we're trying to be fair and to give them what their paying for. It gives them a fair opportunity and it's given us a fair opportunity to evaluate what the costs are. "I didn't know I was gonna have to pay guys as much as I've had to pay them, but it's a wonderful situation, so my costs go up. We've had this period of time and it'll go on for some time. Bottom line: Parrot is staying, most likely for a "lifetime." Jarrett is focused and fully intends to be a title contender in the 2000 season. Yates is happy with the progress so far in the first nine completed events, and is not yet concentrating on locking in a sponsor for next season.

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