The Other Parrott Out On His Own

Brad Parrott has a chance to be something more than Buddy's son and Todd's younger brother.

A member of one of the most successful families of mechanics in NASCAR history, Parrott will call the shots for the first time on Sunday, as crew chief for old go-karting buddy Scott Pruett.

Parrott took charge of Pruett's car on Monday and is preparing it for the 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon.

It was a tough decision for Parrott, leaving family, success and the relative comfort he felt working for Todd, crew chief on the Robert Yates Racing Ford of Winston Cup champion Dale Jarrett.

"For two brothers to work together in this business and succeed like we did, it's a blessing," said Brad, who worked on Jarrett's team for 4.5 years. "But now it's time for me to go out and see if I can use what Todd taught me to win on my own."

So far, winning seems to run in the family. Todd succeeded following the path of his father, Buddy, one of the greatest crew chiefs in history and now team manager for the Roush Racing cars of Mark Martin and Jeff Burton.

His eldest son has helped lead Jarrett to 19 victories over four-plus seasons. That part probably can't be duplicated by Brad, nor will he get a chance to match the drama of the first Jarrett-Parrott foray.

They won the 1996 Daytona 500, and Jarrett blossomed into star, then a champion.

"Brad has learned a lot and done a lot for our race team, and I think it's his time," Todd said. "He's wanting to make his own calls. He's wanting to make decisions in the pits."

But there are questions about whether he picked the right team.

Pruett and car owner Cal Wells III are new to stock car racing. Wells was considered something of a carpetbagger when he negotiated away Ricky Rudd's longtime sponsorship from Tide last year to form his first NASCAR team.

And, as with practically any fledgling team, Wells and Pruett are struggling.

Pruett is 39th in the standings and yet to finish a race in the top 10. Wells figures hiring Parrott could be the first step toward legitimacy and competitiveness.

Finding a crew chief was about much more than mphs and rpms, Pruett insists.

"It's a tough thing to do," he said. "One, to find a crew chief with that sort of experience and those kind of credentials. And two, to be able to integrate him with our program."

In many ways, Parrott seems like a natural to hook up with Pruett. They became friends in 1982, when Pruett was racing go-karts. They kept in touch, and Pruett leaned on Parrott for advice when he raced as a CART representative in IROC competition.

"He was a familiar face," Pruett said.

So, Parrott is trading a racing association with his family for another with an old friend. He's leaving one of the best teams in the business for one with no past and a shaky future.

Moving on isn't easy.

"Very hard, plain and simple," he said of the decision. "But being a Parrott, I've learned over the years that there is pressure and you have to handle it.

"I've got to look at it like, it's not a matter of if I can get the job done. It's just a matter of when I'm going to get it done."

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