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Family ties: Being closer to home drives Brad Parrott to Rusty Wallace Racing

By Lee Montgomery

Brad Parrott spent only three hectic weeks at Baker Curb Racing before he decided to leave the NASCAR Nationwide Series team and join Rusty Wallace Racing. Was something wrong? Were there personality conflicts? Were there bridges burned?

No, no and no, according to Parrott and Baker Curb co-owner Gary Baker. Parrott simply wanted to be closer to home, and Baker understood.

"I had a very nice deal with them, but it was six hours from home," Parrott told in a phone interview on Wednesday. "The deal came up at Rusty’s, and it’s 15 minutes from home."

Baker Curb is based in Nashville, Tenn., and Parrott was driving six hours one way twice a week – and missing several nights at home.

"I grew up with my dad being in racing and never getting to see him," Brad said of his father, former Cup crew chief Buddy Parrott. "I had to get a job to get into racing so I can see my dad. I‘ve been in this business 25 years, and I’ve got a 12 and an 8 year old and a beautiful wife. The past three weeks, I’ve been home six nights. I learned a lot as a kid growing up without my dad, and I don’t want my kids being in the same situation, and neither does my dad."

Baker understood, and Parrott said the co-owner told the team Tuesday night that "family comes first." Baker has known the Parrott family for a quarter-century, and Brad’s mother, Judy, worked for him for several years.

"I’ve know the family for probably 25 years, and I think the world of that entire family," Baker said. "There are no bridges burned. There were even some tears shed last night at the shop. He had a good going-away discussion with all the guys on the team. … We’re thankful for the three weeks we had Brad. Wish it could’ve continued, but now I can say, ‘Rusty, you owe me, buddy.’"

Parrott begins his tenure as Brendan Gaughan’s crew chief at RWR on Thursday, he said. His first order of business is to get to know everyone on the team and understand the team’s processes.

"I told them, the first three weeks would be kind of a test session because I’m starting so late," Parrott said. "Because of the schedule the way it is, I’ve got three weeks off in the month of March, and I’ll treat that like my winter. With the support Toyota’s going to bring us, with everybody at RWR and the knowledge they have, with a new crew chief in Scott McDougall, we’re going to go out and be strong. Don’t be surprised if we don’t run in the top five in the first three races."