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INDIANAPOLIS -- Todd Parrott, the newly named crew chief for Elliott Sadler and the No. 19 Stanley Ford Fusion, is preparing to head to the Brickyard 400 with the confidence gleaned from years of success at the fabled track. Parrott talked about what the key is to having success at Indy and some of his favorite moments from the past there.
Q. YOU HAVE HAD SUCCESS AT INDIANAPOLIS OVER THE YEARS, WHAT IS THE KEY?
A. You have to have a good race car, a fast race car, which you have to have anywhere. You need a great engine combination. The straightaways are awfully long. The thing I have learned there through the years is the better your car handles and drives, the faster you are going to run down the straightaway. The faster you run through the corners, the more straightaway speed you will carry. We work on handling at a premium there. We don’t worry so much about drag as much as you do the total downforce and getting through the corners. Those things are key at Indy.
Q. HOW WILL THIS YEAR’S TRIP TO INDY BE DIFFERENT FOR YOU SINCE YOU WILL NOT HAVE HAD MUCH TIME WITH THE NO. 19?
A. The guys in the shop have already got the cars prepared. Obviously, we have the weekend before Indy off, so it will give me more time to prepare for that race. I am looking forward to that and getting my hands on the car and doing all the little detail work to make sure the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed. Honestly, the last time that Elliott Sadler and I were together in 2005 we sat on the pole for the Brickyard 400. That is kind of ironic that we are getting ready to go back there again as a team. Hopefully if the stars line up we will have another shot at it.
Q. DO YOU THINK GRABBING THE POLE THE LAST TIME YOU TWO WERE THERE TOGETHER GIVES ELLIOTT EXTRA CONFIDENCE HEADING INTO THE BRICKYARD?
A. I think it definitely does. I have already heard it in his voice talking to him and have noticed the morale boost with the whole team. It gives everyone a boost knowing that the last time the crew chief and driver were there together we sat on the pole and had a great race car. I was very fortunate to have won two Brickyard 400’s at Robert Yates Racing with Dale Jarrett . We won it in 1996 in my first year as a crew chief and then again in 1999 when we went on to win the championship, so that is pretty cool.
Q. YOU HAVE HAD SOME GREAT MOMENTS OVER THE YEARS AT THE BRICKYARD, WHAT RACE STANDS OUT TO YOU?
A. I remember winning in 1996 with a great car. We beat Ernie Irvan. It was two team cars running one and two and Dale got off of turn one a little better than Ernie. Ernie got up in the gray stuff and Dale got under him. We won that race and then went back in 1997 with a really fast car. For about four straight years we had the dominant car there.
Q. YOU HAVE ALSO SUFFERED SOME TOUGH MOMENTS. IS THERE ONE IN PARTICULAR THAT STICKS IN YOUR MIND?
A. Well, in 1998 we were really fast and leading the race. We were going to pit the next time by but we were trying to lead the halfway money. The crew chief got kind of greedy and was trying to go for it to lead the halfway money because it paid a lot of bonus money and we flat ran out of gas. That didn’t pay off too well. We lost three or four laps trying to do that and we ended up making three of the four laps up the rest of the race, and that was before the lucky dog. We had a very fast race car and it was very obvious. We learned from our mistakes though and when we tested in 1999 we focused exclusively on fuel cell pick-up and making sure that didn’t happen again and ended up winning the race again in 1999.
Q. WHEN YOU WON WITH DALE JARRETT IN 1996, YOU DECIDED TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT THAT BECAME A PRETTY BIG DEAL DIDN’T IT?
A. Yeah, we were over there in victory lane and with the history of Indianapolis and the yard of bricks there at the start-finish line, Dale and I just started looking around at all the fans and taking in the history of the place. I looked at Dale and told him to grab the guys because we were going to do something. He looked at me like, ‘What are you talking about?’ So we all went out to the bricks and turned our hats around backwards and bent down on our knees and kissed the bricks.
Q. AND NOW THAT HAS BECOME ONE OF THE TOP TRADITIONS IN MOTORSPORTS.
A. Yeah, it has become tradition for everybody now. It is pretty cool to know that it came from us. Actually, I have heard that in the Indianapolis 500 program this year I guess there is a story in there about this, so I need to get my hands on a copy of that when we get up there.