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Jack Roush shakes up Matt Kenseth's team and plugs in crew chief Todd Parrott

  Matt Kenseth (L) gets congrats from crew chief Todd Parrott (R) at after winning the 2009 Daytona 500. Now they're paired together. (Photo: Autostock)

   By Mike Mulhern

   FONTANA, Calif.
   Warhorse crew chief Todd Parrott, once one of the stars of the sport, and the man who helped Dale Jarrett win the 1999 Cup championship, is back a headliner again, with the quick promotion to boss of Matt Kenseth's Sprint Cup team, effective here for this weekend's California 500.
   The unexpected change follows a somewhat disappointing run by Kenseth in the season-opening Daytona 500, a race he won last season, in his first run with then-new crew chief Drew Blickensderfer.
   The Kenseth and Blickensderfer followed that win with a solid victory in the California 500 – this weekend's event – they appeared on a role. But things slowly seemed to slip away as the season went on, and Kenseth failed to make the playoff cut for the first time.
    The no-nonsense Parrott, whose father is the legendary Buddy Parrott, certainly an eventual Hall of Famer, is an old-school racer who has won 29 tour events during his career.
   Blickensderfer will move to Jack Roush's R&D department. 
   Certainly Parrott will be under the gun quickly, because this flat (14-degree) two-mile track has been a good one for Kenseth over the years. He's got three wins at the track, on the eastern fringes of Los Angeles.
    "Fontana is typically a very good track for me and the team," Kenseth says. "It was nice coming out of Daytona in the top-10, and we're ready for California this weekend.  We've done a lot of work in the off-season, as an organization, to prepare for this kind of downforce track."
     Blickensderfer points to this track as a place "where horsepower is very important."
    While the Roush engines looked strong at Daytona, along with the Richard Childress motors, in what portends a change in fortunes for both operations after a ragged 2009, that is a restrictor plate track, and California's Auto Club Speedway is a muscle-engine unrestricted track.
   Blickensderfer also points to the tire game here as key: "It's also a track where tires wear out fairly fast, so handling becomes a premium."
   While Kenseth wound up eighth at Daytona, not bad considering the late-race scrambling, he wasn't pleased with the performance of his car: "
"I'm happy with the result, but I wasn't very happy with our weekend overall. 
   "We started the day way, way off, and it was just a battle the whole time. 
    "We got lucky.
    "We ran about 25th or 30th all day."
    But Kenseth made the most of the two green-white-checkered runs at the end: "That gave us an opportunity to make some moves at the end and kind of go crazy. 
    "I got a run down the backstretch and was able to get three or four-wide up against the wall, and I got some help.  I got my momentum up there and got lucky to get a few spots. 
    "We didn't race our way to eighth and didn't really deserve eighth.  I just got lucky."

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 Todd Parrott (L) has worked with some of the best in the business, including Dale Jarrett, here during their successful NASCAR championship run (Photo: Autostock)

Why make this change after

Why make this change after one race? I mean, make it BEFORE the season starts if it did not work at the end of last year, or give it 5 or so races this year if you're going to continue the relationship.

Matt and Drew had some

Matt and Drew had some success together in the NW series, but just didn't seem to cook with the COT. Time will tell if it was Drew or Matt. I've been a Matt fan since his Wisco short track days. He definitely knows what he want's in a car. The question is can his preferences be accomodated within the limitations of the COT? I remember another "smooth driver", Bobby Labonte, just couldn't get "comfortable" when the old car evolved into the aero monster from 2001-2004. Some guys like Kyle Bush will make just about anything he drives go where he wants it to go--resulting in more then a few wrecks and possibly a lost SC championship. Matt will get the max out of a car but he definitely does not have a win or crash attitude.

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