He wasn't long without a home: Pat Tryson has a found a winning partnership with Penske, Kurt Busch

Posted: August 09, 2007

Stay in NASCAR long enough and many crew chiefs will work for several racing teams. The 8-year Tony Stewart-Greg Zipadelli association is very unusual.

Pat Tryson has moved several times in his Nextel Cup career. This year, after 3 seasons as Mark Martin's crew chief, Tryson was moved within the Roush Racing shop to Greg Biffle's team.

The Biffle-Tryson pairing lasted only 11 races. With Biffle 16th in points, Tryson was dismissed. Greg Erwin, from Hatboro, replaced Tryson.

Tryson, a Malvern native, has learned to go with the flow. But at 43, he was concerned about his future in NASCAR. Concerned for a few minutes, as it turned out.

"I had a call about 5 minutes after I left the [Roush] shop," Tryson said Sunday night after guiding Kurt Busch to victory in the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway. "I heard from them all, except Gibbs and Hendrick. It makes you feel good when you're feeling bad."

One caller was Penske Racing, where Busch and Ryan Newman are the Cup series drivers. Busch, the 2004 Cup champion, was 16th in points when Tryson slipped on his blue Miller Lite uniform.

Seven races later, Busch has a victory and is 12th in points.

If the Chase started now, Busch would be the final qualifier. Unfortunately for Busch and Tryson, there are five more races before the Chase field is set; Busch is seven points ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The good news for the No. 2 Dodge team is that Busch has built momentum heading into those five pre-Chase races.

Crew chiefs and drivers are comparable to coaches and quarterbacks. They don't have to be pals, but they'd better respect each other and communicate.

"I'm just happy that I have the chance to work with such a good guy," said Busch, who turned 29 the day before the Pocono race. "It reminds me a lot of my days with Jimmy Fennig, to have that experience. Pat said we're not going to fix it all in 1 day. He's a big-picture kind of guy."

Before he signed on with Penske Racing, Tryson asked, "Are you sure you want to bring somebody in [from the outside]? Troy [Raker] and Roy [McCauley] built the race team." (Raker was Busch's interim crew chief after McCauley took a leave of absence to care for his ailing wife.)

"I think I made the right decision for me," Tryson said. "This is the most fun I've had in a long time. The guys on the team have accepted me. I knew Kurt; we get along fine."

Tryson was with Martin all three times in the Chase for the Championship. Only two other drivers/crew chiefs have been in all three Chases: Jimmie Johnson with Chad Knaus, and Matt Kenseth with Robbie Reiser.

"Keeping that streak alive is important to me," Tryson said. "I'm going to do everything I can to make it and I know Kurt will. It doesn't matter who we bump out, as long as we get in. We're going to try to help the [No.] 12 get in, too."

Montoya eyes record

If Juan Pablo Montoya wins either the Busch or Cup race at Watkins Glen this weekend, he will become the first NASCAR driver to prevail in three road races in one season. Montoya gained his first Cup victory at Sonoma, Calif., in June. He also won the Busch race in Mexico City.

Ernie Irvan (1992) and Darrell Waltrip ('86) won two road races each.

Montoya, a former Indy car and Formula One racer, has found NASCAR challenging.

"The biggest challenge is getting used to the cars," he said Tuesday on a conference call. "[Also], getting to know the people that I work with, understanding the rules and how everybody races. It's so different from open-wheel racing."

Montoya said he's enjoying the "big tracks," including Pocono, to a point.

"Pocono was a little too long for my taste," he said. "It just felt so long."

Join the club, JP, of people who think the Pocono races would be much more interesting at 400 miles instead of 500.

Gerhart out of hospital

Bobby Gerhart, who was hurt in Saturday's ARCA RE/MAX Series Pennsylvania 200 at Pocono Raceway, was released yesterday from Lehigh Valley Hospital. The Lebanon, Pa., resident will wear a back brace during his rehab.

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Centurion Boats at the Glen

Watkins Glen International

Watkins Glen, N.Y.

When: Sunday, 2 p.m.

TV/radio: ESPN/WXTU (92.5-FM), WNPV (1440-AM)

Race course/distance: 2.45-mile road course/90 laps

Last year's race winner: Kevin Harvick

Last year's pole winner: Kurt Busch, 122.966 mph

Track qualifying record: Jeff Gordon, 124.580 mph (August 2003)

Track facts: Chevrolet drivers have won nine of the last 10 Glen races. Tony Stewart, in a Pontiac in 2002, was the exception. Stewart also won in 2004 and '05. Stewart was runner-up in last year's race; Jamie McMurray was third ... This is the second Car of Tomorrow road race. Juan Pablo Montoya won at Sonoma, Calif.; Kevin Harvick was runner-up, Jeff Burton was third ... Points leader Jeff Gordon hasn't led a lap in the last three races, finishing ninth, third and fourth. He still holds a 366-point lead over Denny Hamlin ... Gordon tops all drivers, with four wins at the Glen ... Harvick passed Stewart with four laps remaining to win last year's Glen race ... Jeremy Mayfield will not return to Bill Davis Racing next season, the team said yesterday. He has qualified for only eight events.

Wins: Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, 4 each; Tony Stewart, 2; Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Casey Mears, 1 each.

NEXTEL CUP STANDINGS

Top 12 drivers following the Sept. 8 race qualify for the Chase for the Nextel Cup championship.

1. Jeff Gordon, (1 last week), 3236 points

2. Denny Hamlin (2), 2870, -366

3. Matt Kenseth (3), 2825, -411

4. Jeff Burton (4), 2763, -473

5. Tony Stewart (5), 2749, -487

6. Carl Edwards (6), 2682, -554

7. Jimmie Johnson (9), 2624, -612

8. Kyle Busch (8), 2611, -625

9. Kevin Harvick (7), 2600, -636

10. Clint Bowyer (10), 2552, -684

11. Martin Truex Jr. (11), 2437, -799

12. Kurt Busch (13), 2399, -837

13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (12), 2392, -844

14. Ryan Newman (14), 2309, -927

15. Mark Martin (17), 2183, -1053

15. Greg Biffle (16), 2183, -1053

17. Jamie McMurray (15), 2147, -1089

18. Juan Montoya (18), 2132, -1104

19. Casey Mears (19), 2113, -1123

20. Bobby Labonte (20), 2030, -1206

SCHEDULE

Aug. 19: 3M Performance 400, Brooklyn, Mich.

Aug. 25: Sharpie 500, Bristol, Tenn.

Sept. 2: Sponsor TBA, Fontana, Calif.

Sept. 8: Chevy Rock & Roll 400, Richmond, Va.

Chase for the Cup championship begins

Sept. 16: Sylvania 300, Loudon, N.H.

Sept. 23: Dover 400, Dover, Del.

Sept. 30: Kansas 400, Kansas City, Kan.

Oct. 7: UAW-Ford 500, Talladega, Ala.

Oct. 13: Bank of America 500, Concord, N.C.

Oct. 21: Subway 500, Martinsville, Va.

Oct. 28: Georgia 500, Hampton, Ga.

Nov. 4: Dickies 500, Fort Worth, Texas

Nov. 11: Checker Auto Parts 500, Avondale, Ariz.

Nov. 18: Ford 400, Homestead, Fla.

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