It seems like we are getting a “special announcement” a week as of late, and it’ll likely be this way for the rest of the year. This week’s edition is the official confirmation that Pat Tryson will be Martin Truex Jr.’s crew chief at Michael Waltrip Racing in 2009.
Although speculation says otherwise, the press release announcing the move says Tryson will not be moving over to MWR until the close of the season.
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Now whether that is true or not, I believe, depends on how Tryson’s current team, the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Penske Racing team, runs during the upcoming Chase for the Sprint Cup. If Kurt Busch performs like he did Saturday night at Richmond, where he finished second, Roger Penske and Co. would be crazy to break that up. But if they get off to a bad start and get to a point where they are no longer legitimate title contenders, I think you’ll see Tryson move over to MWR early and whoever is likely to be Busch’s full-time guy in 2010 get an early head start.
If you happened to hear or read Busch’s comments Friday afternoon when he confirmed that Tryson was leaving at the end of the year, you get the sense that the driver is pretty upset about the upcoming change. And who can blame him? Busch is probably wondering “Why?” It certainly has me asking that very question. The pair has had a pretty good run since Tryson joined the organization in 2007. They may have had an off year in 2008, but they know how to win and this year they stepped up their efforts and made the Chase.
But, let’s face it. Tryson’s not a young guy anymore, and maybe he sees something at MWR and the Toyota camp that makes him think about the key pieces to him and Martin Truex Jr. being the next hot pair and recording results like Steve Addington and Kyle Busch did when they teamed up last year at Joe Gibbs Racing. I don’t think Tryson would leave Busch because of a lack of performance, and I don’t think it’s money either. So there’s something over at the new No. 56 MWR team that’s got Tryson excited enough to make the move.
Looking back in time, I’m sure people looked at me like I was crazy in 1996 when I left Robert Yates Racing, but I was just burned out. I had been there for several years and was ready for a change. And that happens to crew chiefs and drivers in NASCAR, crew chiefs in stick and ball sports, everybody really. It gets to a point where you want to see if you can do better in a new environment, and I think the older you get, the more you want to see if that’s a reality.
This news may be official today, but everybody in the garage has known it for the last couple of weeks. Let’s face it. There are no more secret announcements in NASCAR. As I’ve said in the past, the garage area is the world’s biggest beauty parlor. But realistically, there’s only two people that can make this deal work for the final 10 races of the season: Kurt Busch and Pat Tryson. If they work together and keep their momentum going, they could split up at the end of the year on very good terms and maybe even leave with a title. But if they start looking ahead too much or get frustrated with one another, this partnership could come to a premature end.
FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at www.crewchiefclub.com.
“How to Become a Winning Crew Chief” is on bookstore shelves, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.