Veteran crew chief Todd Parrott will replace Drew Blickensderfer as crew chief for Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 17 and driver Matt Kenseth, effective immediately. Parrott will serve as crew chief for this weekend’s race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.
Blickensderfer became Kenseth’s crew chief after the 2008 season, and the team won the first two race of 2009. But, the team struggled for the rest of the season. Keseth posted an average finish of 15th in the remaining races and missed the Chase for the first time since its inception.
While the reasoning behind the move is fairly clear, the timing doesn’t seem to make sense. Why wait until after the first race of the season to make a change? And why make a change after the team posts a top 10 finish in that race?
Making such an abrupt (at least it appears abrupt) change could be disasterous. But, make the change to a veteran like Parrott could minimize the impact on continuity. Still, it seems pretty risky to make a change in the middle of a race-week. Unless of course, RFR started making the transition before publicly announcing it.
Blickensderfer will move to RFR’s research and development department. Have you ever noticed that when a crew chief is replaced, they usually go one of three places? They are either promoted to management, leave the company, or move to R&D.
To me, it seems that the R&D move is a demotion. Tony Eury Jr was kicked to R&D at Hendrick Motorsports after his was replaced by Lance McGrew as Dale Earnhardt Jr’s crew chief. But then again, what do I know.