Matt Kenseth and Drew Blickensderfer have parted ways a year after winning the Daytona 500 together.

Instant Analysis: Matt Kenseth Gets New Crew Chief One Race Into Season

Drew Blickensderfer out, Todd Parrott in. What gives?

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Kenseth Takes Responsibility For Crew Chief Change

Matt Kenseth said the decision to change crew chiefs from Drew Blickensderfer to veteran Todd Parrott was prompted after feeling like his team lacked a spark at Daytona.

Kenseth answered the “Why now?” question by taking full responsibility for the change.

“The timing of the change is 100 percent my fault,” Kenseth said Friday. “Jack [Roush, team owner] talked to me in November and asked if we thought we were OK with everything we had going on, and I really did.”

But the way the team reacted at Daytona, Kenseth said, something needed to be done. The team had a top-10 finish, but Kenseth felt his team was missing its mojo.

“[The timing] doesn’t make any sense,” Kenseth acknowledged. “It’s not really good for anybody, but it’s just kind of the way it went down. I thought instead of dragging it out it was just something that needed to be done.”

Kenseth said the change was necessary in his mind because his team lacked fire or desire. It needed a strong voice to lead, and Kenseth is a self-admitted bad leader.

“You almost felt like they’d come in and they were just kind of going through the motions,” Kenseth said. "I was like, ‘We need to get some spark into the group somehow and get everybody back to what this is about.’

“I’m a big football fan, so watching Drew Brees fire up his guys before the game with all his chants and singing. … I’m probably not the guy to do that, and I just felt like there was something that needed to be changed.”

Will Parrott be the answer? Roush said Parrott had the job on an “interim basis,” but Kenseth offered praise for his new crew chief by saying Parrott’s voice “thunders through the room” as a strong leader.


Instant Analysis: Matt Kenseth Gets New Crew Chief One Race Into Season

If there was ever proof that NASCAR is a "What have you done for me lately?" business, look at Drew Blickensderfer.

One year after the crew chief won the Daytona 500 in his Sprint Cup debut with Matt Kenseth - and then won again the following week in Fontana - Blickensderfer is out as crew chief of the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing team.

The move was pretty surprising, given the Cup Series hadn't even arrived at an intermediate track yet (it's impossible to judge how a team's season will develop based solely on the wild nature of Daytona) and that Blickensderfer was just beginning his second season.

Yes, Kenseth and his team struggled mightily last year after winning the first two races. Kenseth missed the Chase for the first time in its existence and was basically a non-factor for most of the season.

But with the exception of a couple strong runs by Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle, all of Roush Fenway had a disappointing season. The struggles weren't limited to Kenseth; Jamie McMurray and David Ragan didn't do anything either.

On this year's preseason media tour, team owner Jack Roush proclaimed RFR had found something to become competitive again. He seemed almost giddy (well, by his standards) at the possibility of a turnaround, thanks to whatever this mysterious something was.

And while Daytona certainly means a lot, it carries no significance in the grand scheme of things. The Roush cars had a fairly strong Speedweeks, but it's still irrelevant to the rest of the year's performance.

At least one would think. Apparently Roush and/or Kenseth were so unhappy with the team's performance, they felt this move was necessary now.

It's highly doubtful Roush made this decision without Kenseth's input. Kenseth played a key role in his previous crew chief change, when Chip Bolin (the team engineer who had replaced Robbie Reiser) was pushed aside for the arrival of Blickensderfer, who had become known as one of the top minds in the Nationwide Series.

Everyone figured Blickensderfer - a "young gun" for crew chiefs, if you will - would have a feel for NASCAR's new model car and be able to adjust on it to suit Kenseth's liking.

Clearly, that didn't happen. Blickensderfer will "assume a role in Roush Fenway's research and development department," according to a press release. That's quite a demotion from Sprint Cup crew chief, so you can bet Blickensderfer won't stay there for long.

Expect to see him surface in a crew chief role again soon, perhaps even in the Nationwide Series. This may have been a case of a driver and crew chief who never quite got on the same page, but that's admittedly specul ation.

In the meantime, Roush's answer to the No. 17's problems is Todd Parrott, which is a bit of an odd choice given the trend toward the young engineer types and not so much toward the veterans who were experts with the old car.

But Parrott's experience means he may lead more in the mold of Reiser than Blickensderfer - which is perhaps what Kenseth needs. It seems the only way for this move to pay immediate dividends is if the missing link for Kenseth and his crew chief was chemistry.

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