Veteran Todd Parrott will replace Luke Lambert atop the pit box for Ryan Newman and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, as Lambert begins serving a six-week suspension for altering tires at Auto Club Speedway last month. But while RCR’s XFINITY Series competition director has plenty of experience as a Sprint Cup Series crew chief, Parrott said he has no interest in returning to the position full-time.
“I’m not out to get Luke Lambert’s job or any of these guys,” said Parrott today. “I’m just here to fill in and do the job they have asked me to do. Then I’m going to go back to doing the jobs that I am doing.”
“I have been here since December with RCR… so working with all these guys on the Cup teams -- all the engineering department, all the aero department and that stuff -- I’m very familiar with what is going on here. You guys know my history. I have a lot of years in the Cup garage (and) hopefully it shows the depth of RCR, while Luke is going through his deal with the suspension.”
Parrott said he expects no major surprises this weekend, saying, “I’ve been coming to Bristol for a long time. It’s one of my favorite tracks. I won here with Dale Jarrett a long time ago (and) I’ve had successful cars. The race is fast and a lot of things happen; pitting for two tires, four tires, staying out. All of those things are going to come into effect, things that I’m going to have to brush up on in the next couple of days.
We have a great supporting cast here with Grant Hutchens and Ryan Baldi filling in for Phil (Surgen). There is a lot of depth here at RCR (and) I’m just going to step in and do the best job I can. Hopefully, we have a little success.”
Parrott said he gave the No. 31 team an impromptu pep talk during last week’s test at Kansas Speedway, telling them, “‘I’m not sure what is going to happen. But if (Lambert’s suspension) does happen and I get the call to go to Bristol and work with you guys, is there anything you need from me? What do you want? What do you like?’
“I got a good feel for that group and what they need. It’s a great bunch of guys, it really is. To do the things they did last year (and) finish second in the points, (there are) a lot of good people at RCR. I’m very comfortable with what I’m doing and I’m excited for the chance.”
He said his team will not be distracted by Lambert’s suspension.
“It’s been tough, because there has been a lot of focus, a lot of media attention on them and their team. But I feel like the mood of the team is really good. We have to go out and do our jobs and come out of here with a good, solid finish. That is what we came to do. I’m going to do everything in my power and (use) what I know with all my racing history and try to do that.”
Parrott said he expects to be in frequent contact with Lambert throughout the weekend, adding, “I know there will be some communication of some sort, but we haven’t really worked on that yet. I’m taking it one day at a time. When I walked through the gate today, my goal was to win the pole with Ryan Newman and the No. 31 Caterpillar team. That is my goal today. I will take tomorrow when tomorrow gets here.”
He stressed, however, that he has no desire to return to the ranks of full-time Sprint Cup Series crew chief.
“I will do it for six or seven races,” he said. “With Ryan Newman? I mean, come on. (It’s) Ryan Newman and RCR. It’s a great opportunity for myself. Ryan is an awesome talent in this sport and one heck of a race car driver. I’m excited for the opportunity."