Where does the departure of crew chief Brad Parrott leave the Baker Curb Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series team? Not hitting the panic button, team co-owner Gary Baker said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Parrott told the team Tuesday night he was leaving to join Rusty Wallace Racing, which is closer to his home than Baker Curb’s shop. The search is underway to find a replacement for Parrott, though Baker said he is under no pressure to hire someone quickly.
"We are not going to do a knee-jerk decision process here," Baker said. "We feel like we’ve got a winning team, and we’ve got to put a winner in place. We had a winner in Brad, and we’re going to go find another winner and plug him in that spot. The beauty is we have such a strong team that if we have to go to Daytona without a crew chief, we’re going to be OK.
"We’ve got capable people inside our shop already that are capable of stepping up. And we’ve also got Greg Biffle behind the wheel of that 27 car, and honestly, Ray Charles could crew chief Greg Biffle. That guy is such a consummate pro."
The season-opener is Feb. 13 at Daytona International Speedway. Baker compared the situation to if the Indianapolis Colts lost center Jeff Saturday on the first play of the Super Bowl.
"I don’t think the Colts are going to go to the sidelines and say, ‘OK, we quit,’" Baker said. "They’re going to suck up, go out there and still win the ballgame."
Baker Curb also faces the lack of a primary sponsor for the No. 27 after the middle of June, as Red Man can’t continue on the car. Still, Baker hopes the car can keep running the rest of the year.
"I’m the eternal optimist," Baker said. "I strongly feel that the 27 car will continue on for the entirety of the year – strongly feel. Of course, without a sponsor, we would not. And do we have a sponsor signed right now? No, we do not. But we have several that are very close. It’s 90 percent that it will continue on for the entirety of the year."