NASCAR

Loomis leads champions to Petty Enterprises

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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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Todd from Milroy, Pa.: I'm a Petty fan from way back, and I'm wondering why Petty Enterprises — with the years of bad runs — is now attracting so much talent in the fold? Larry McReynolds: I've got to believe it's been a domino effect. One of several reasons why Robbie Loomis went back there is it's home for him. No matter how many different race teams you work for, most crew chiefs and drivers have a home. I will always consider Robert Yates Racing my home. I'm sure Jeff Hammond and Darrell Waltrip will always consider Junior Johnson and Associates their home. You build special relationships with certain teams so I've got to believe that "home" factor played a big part in Loomis going back to Petty Enterprises. Bobby Labonte was looking for something new and fresh, and Loomis probably attracted him along with Petty Enterprises' long-term commitment. And Loomis and Labonte probably attracted Todd Parrott. Plus Parrott's dad, Buddy, had a history of working with Pettys. But I've got to believe and my hopes would be that all of those guys went there based on the Pettys saying, "It's your deal. Run the way you know how to run it." It's been a long time since Petty Enterprises has been in championship form. Loomis, Labonte and Parrott have all won titles in the last seven years so they know what it takes. Paul Andrews works there took, and he won a title in 1992 with Alan Kulwicki. While Petty Enterprises is a long way away from a championship, these guys know what needs to be done to be competitive and win races.
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The key is letting those boys do what they know how to do. Parrott's aggressive, and if a car isn't good in the wind tunnel, Parrott will come back home and cut off the body. He doesn't care whose feelings he'll hurt. He doesn't want to hurt the team's feelings by going to the racetrack and running poorly. As long as the Pettys and the managers that they have in place will give those guys free reign with the exception of changing the car number, sponsor and the make they run, they might be able to breed some success up there. But they have to give them an open book. They can't tell him not to fire a guy who isn't carrying the load because he's been there for 25 years. If that guy is not contributing to the program and being successful and they feel like that position needs to be changed, they've got to be able to make a change. If they don't have 100 percent authority, Petty Enterprises will still struggle even with Bobby Labonte, Robbie Loomis and Todd Parrott. They can't tell those guys, "This is the way we've been doing it for years here. We want to keep doing it that way." It hasn't been working well for a number of years. I don't mean those comments in a derogatory way toward the Pettys, but the past is the past. They've got to work on the future, and the future starts right now.


FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at www.crewchiefclub.com.

"How to Become a Winning Crew Chief" is on bookstore shelves, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.

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