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Roush Explains Why Kenseth Has New Crew Chief

Jeff Hood | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, February 19 2010
Matt Kenseth and Drew Blickensderfer have separated one year after their last victory together.  (File photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)

Matt Kenseth and Drew Blickensderfer have separated one year after their last victory together. (File photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)

Fontana, Calif. – Directing Matt Kenseth to an eighth-place finish in Sunday’s Daytona 500 wasn’t enough for Drew Blickensderfer to retain his job as crew chief of Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 17 Ford.

The first shocking personnel move of the young NASCAR season was detailed by team owner Jack Roush during a press conference Friday morning at Auto Club Speedway.

It boiled down to results.

Kenseth hasn’t visited victory lane in nearly a year. His most-recent win came in last February’s Auto Club 500 here in southern California. That victory came a week after capturing the rain-shortened Daytona 500.

But the team fell short of expectations during the balance of the season and failed to make the field for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

“This is a performance business,” Roush said. “We’ve all got to do what we have to do out there on the firing line to meet the expectations of our fans, to satisfy our sponsors and the other partners we’ve got, and we have to do the right human things as well.”

After confirming that Blickensderfer, Kenseth’s crew chief since the 2009 Daytona 500, had been reassigned within the organization, Roush introduced 46-year-old Todd Parrott as the team’s interim pit boss.

Roush admitted that he considered reuniting Kenseth with former crew chief Robbie Reiser, who now serves as general manager at Roush Fenway Racing.

Parrott is the son of legendary crew chief Buddy Parrott and older brother of Nationwide Series crew chief Brad Parrott. He enjoyed much of his success atop the pit box during the 1990s when he guided Dale Jarrett to victories at Daytona and Indianapolis and the 1999 Sprint Cup championship.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to work with Matt and the entire 17 team,” Parrott said. “It’s no secret that Matt has got a lot of talent. I think he showed that last weekend at Daytona. He rode around 25th all day long and finished eighth.”

Asked why the move didn’t occur during the offseason, Kenseth grabbed the microphone and accepted responsibility.

“The timing is probably 100 percent my fault,” Kenseth said. “I know that I’ve been asked by Jack several times if there’s anything he can do for me, if there’s anything we need to change on the team, if there’s anything he can do better on equipment.

“He’s never told me ‘no’ to anything that’s reasonable and gives us whatever we need to be competitive, so I would say that’s 100 percent my fault. Jack talked to me in November and asked if we thought we were OK with everything we had going on, and I really did.

“I really felt like we needed to give Drew a full year and a full off-season.We knew there were some things to work on and he was working on some things to try and make it better, so it’s really hard to explain the timing of the change. 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.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

Jeff Hood | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, February 19 2010
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