Todd Parrott’s Road Back To Victory Lane
It was a walk that Todd Parrott has taken many times before throughout his NASCAR career, but as the Richard Childress Racing XFINITY Series Competition Director made his way through the Neon Garage towards Victory Lane to celebrate with Austin Dillon and the No. 33 XFINITY Series team at Las Vegas Motor Speedway he couldn’t help but cry.
Parrott has had his share of humble pie in recent years. The 51-year old two-time Daytona 500 winning crew chief completed the NASCAR Road to Recovery program in the beginning of 2014 after an isolated incident in October of 2013. “When I got the phone call (from NASCAR), I knew what had happened. I wasn’t going to hide from it, I knew I had screwed up and I’m better than that,” Parrott said. “I was determined to fix the problem, do what I needed to do and come back strong.”
DETERMINED TO GET BACK INTO THE SPORT
Parrott, a staple in the NASCAR community for the past 30 years, has claimed most, if not all of the sport’s biggest victories. However, getting back into the sport was a difficult road for the former Sprint Cup Series Champion, “It was hard. I was afraid when it happened, nobody wanted to take a chance (on me). Obviously the records speak for themselves, I’ve been very successful and fortunate everywhere to have worked with the people and the companies I have.”
After getting the call from NASCAR for reinstatement in January 2014, Parrott immediately jumped in the car with his father (former crew chief, Buddy Parrott) and headed to Daytona International Speedway without a job where Sprint Cup teams were conducting off-season testing. “It was me and him in a car together, nobody else just talking about life, and what I wanted to do,” he recalls. Parrott knew he needed to be back in the garage, “I needed to get my face back in the sport; I knew in the back of my mind that I had a black cloud over my head. As I was getting to the last trailer about to leave for the weekend, Tommy Baldwin stopped and asked me if I had any plans for 2014.”
Shortly thereafter, Parrott signed on as crew chief with Tommy Baldwin Racing in 2014, and admits that it was a major learning experience in his career. “Tommy gave me the opportunity to crew chief the No. 36 Chevrolet, I treated that deal just like it was any other Sprint Cup team that I Crew Chiefed for in the way I prepped the cars,” he said. “I learned a lot of things, a lot of what people take for granted in this sport,” he said of working for the small Cup Series operation. “Going and working there for a year, doing the things we had to do with parts, pieces and people to survive. I tell people to this day, it was probably one of the biggest new learning curves to me in my career…It was a great learning experience.”
JOINING RCR AND DETERMINED TO WIN
Through TBR’s technical alliance and his relationship with RCR, Parrott accepted the role as RCR’s XFINITY Series Competition Director in early December 2014. “I knew coming to RCR, that this place is very capable of winning races and championships. When I was a kid, to me Richard Childress was that guy other than my dad in racing.
I was right next to these guys as a kid growing up in the sport working with Rusty, when he and Dale were the fiercest of competitors.”
While setting goals for the 2015 season, Parrott was aggressive in what he planned to accomplish. “My goal is to win 10 races and The Xfinity Championship with RCR.
BACK TO FAMILIAR TERRITORY
What did it mean for Parrott to finally get back to Victory Lane in NASCAR? “A lot. I’m an emotional person, it’s just the way I am,” as his voice quivered and eyes teared up. “When I left the pit box, I went to the 62 car and told Brendan Gaughan nice job today, then I said to myself “I’m going to Victory Lane” and while walking there, it hit me hard. I’m not gonna lie, I got very emotional, and cried tears of joy.”
— ToddParrott (@toddparott) March 8, 2015