Todd Parrott, the crew chief for Sprint Cup Series driver Aric Almirola, was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR for violating the governing body's substance abuse policy.
Jeff Owens of Sporting News passed along word of the suspension and reports Parrott will have to go through a recovery program before getting reinstated.
Former championship crew chief Todd Parrott has been suspended for violating NASCAR’s substance-abuse policy.
Parrott, who currently is the crew for Aric Almirola at Richard Petty Motorsports, was suspended indefinitely, NASCAR announced on Thursday. He will have to go through NASCAR’s recovery program to be reinstated.
Almirola took to Twitter to voice his support of Parrott, calling him a good friend and saying he would stick by his crew chief throughout the process.
Only five races remain in the 2013 NASCAR season as Parrott steps aside to deal with the personal issue. The Sporting News report states Sammy Johns is going to take over as crew chief of the No. 43 for the time being.
While NASCAR wishes it never had to hand out any suspensions, the overall lack of punishment handed down to high-profile figures since the policies were put in place four years ago is a positive. The rules and regulations seem to be serving as a true deterrent.
As Nate Ryan of USA Today points out, Jeremy Mayfield and A.J. Allmendinger are the only other notable suspensions since the 2009 season. And Mayfield's punishment came in the first year of the new policy, so there have only been two major ones since.
Parrott joins drivers Jeremy Mayfield and A.J. Allmendinger as the most high-profile offenders of the random drug testing policy that was implemented by NASCAR before the 2009 season. He has been a crew chief in NASCAR's premier series since 1995, starting his career at Robert Yates Racing and winning the 1999 championship with Dale Jarrett.
Just like any other sport, doing everything possible to keep it clean is near the top of NASCAR's to-do list. That's why it took further steps in 2009 to eliminate any potential issues lurking beneath the surface, and the results have been promising.
As the suspensions of Mayfield, Allmendinger and Parrott show, NASCAR is willing to come down hard on anybody who violates the policies currently in place, even if they are well-known figures. It sends a message to everybody else in the garage.
NASCAR's image receives a boost by aggressively enforcing the substance abuse rules, which should always be a top priority to begin with.
Almirola, who continues to make progress in his second full season in NASCAR's top series, will miss the presence of a championship-winning crew chief like Parrott. Having a veteran with so much experience guiding the way is extremely helpful for a driver looking to take that next step.
In the meantime, he needs to focus on finishing the season strong while Parrott is away.