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Kenseth proving crew chief change was the right call

By admin | March 2, 2010

By Richard Allen

So far this season Matt Kenseth has recorded finishes of 8th, 7th and 5th in the first three races of 2010. Those are definitely Matt Kenseth type numbers. However, he has taken a strange route in getting to those results.

After only one race, and that being an 8th place finish, crew chief Drew Blickensderfer was replaced on top of the #17 team’s pit box by veteran Brad Parrott. Although the timing of Blickensderfer’s removal was somewhat odd, anyone who has listened to that team on Trackpass or with a scanner should not have been surprised. He and Kenseth just never seemed to click despite the fact they won their first two races as a Sprint Cup tandem back in 2009.

Last season, Kenseth, the 2003 NASCAR champion, missed the Chase for the Championship cutoff for the first time since the playoff’s inception in 2004.

Since the addition of Parrott, Kenseth has posted two consecutive top-10s on two of the 1.5- 2 mile ‘cookie cutter’ tracks which make up so much of the NASCAR schedule. He has already shown a consistency in 2010 that was lacking throughout most of 2009. Last year he only recorded twelve top-10s after posting three consecutive seasons of twenty or more such finishes from 2006- 2008.

Kenseth and Blickensderfer seemed to always be at odds over car preparation and race strategy. So far in this honeymoon phase, the Kenseth- Parrott relationship seems to be going much better.

However, it should be noted that the cars used by this new pairing were prepared under the care of Blickenderfer. So, some credit must be given to him in that regard. The real test for Kenseth’s new crew chief will come when the cars on the track of his design.

So far, though, the situation is looking much better for Matt Kenseth at the start of 2010 than it did at the end of 2009.

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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.

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