Matt Kenseth couldn't define it precisely, but there was something missing on his #17 Ford team when the transporter took off for Daytona earlier this month.
That, more than anything else, explains the sudden crew chief change that brought veteran Todd Parrott to the top of Kenseth's pit box one race into the 2010 season.
Parrott replaced Drew Blickensderfer in a move that owner Jack Roush described simply as a job trade. Blickensderfer has been reassigned to Roush Fenway Racing's research-and-development department.
"You didn't feel like everybody came in the truck fired up to go win races," Kenseth said Friday at Auto Club Speedway. "It's probably not the case, but you almost felt like they'd come in, and they were just kind of going through the motions.
"I was like, 'We need to get some spark into the group and get everybody back to what this is about.'"
Blickersderfer took over from Chip Bolin to start the 2009 season, and he and Kenseth won the first two events together, the Daytona 500 and the Auto Club 500. Kenseth hasn't won since, and in 2009 he failed to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the first time in his career.
"Jack talked to me in November and asked if we thought we were OK with everything we had going on, and I really did," Kenseth said. "I felt like we needed to give Drew a full year and a full offseason.
"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 doesn't make any sense. 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."