Veteran Pat Tryson out as crew chief for Nationwide Series rookie Dylan Kwasniewski

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Veteran NASCAR crew chief Pat Tryson has been released after just 17 races as crew chief for Nationwide Series rookie driver Dylan Kwasniewski.

Turner Scott Motorsports announced Thursday that Shannon Rursch will replace Tryson atop the pit box for the No. 31 Chevrolet, effective with Saturday night’s NNS EnjoyIllinois.com 300 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Rursch was previously car chief for the No. 31 NNS team.

“I respect (Turner Scott’s) decision,” Kwasniewski told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Thursday afternoon. “It’s a shame to see Pat go obviously. We had a great relationship, and he’s a great crew chief.

“Now that we’ve got Shannon, I think he’s going to do a fantastic job. He’s got all the tools to do so. He knows what he needs to do, and I think he’s got the experience to do so.”

Kwasniewski, who is currently 12th in the NNS standings and is vying for series Rookie of the Year honors, has struggled greatly in his rookie season. The 19-year-old Las Vegas native has just one top-10 finish (no wins and no top-fives) in the first 17 races.

Since finishing eighth in the season-opening race at Daytona (started from the pole), Kwasniewski has finished 20th or worse eight times. In his last six starts, he’s recorded showings of 26th, 31st, 26th, 11th, 24th and 13th.

He also has three DNFs.

Kwasniewski has also made two starts for Kyle Larson in the NNS series when Larson was unable to compete for TSM in the No. 42 car. In those starts, Scott Zipadelli has served as crew chief and will remain in that position for any other races Kwasniewski has to replace Larson in this season.

Kwasniewski joined TSM for the 2014 Nationwide Series after winning the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championships.

In addition to 15 races as crew chief for Kwasniewski this season, Tryson was also crew chief for one race each in 2014 for Justin Marks and Chase Pistone.

In the Sprint Cup Series, Tryson was a crew chief from 1997 through 2013, serving with drivers including Mark Martin, Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., David Gilliland, David Reutimann, Geoffrey Bodine, Kevin Lepage, Elliot Sadler and Ricky Rudd.

In 504 Sprint Cup races, Tryson earned eight wins, 62 top-five and 108 top-10 finishes as a crew chief.

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Schmidt Peterson hires IndyCar’s first female lead engineer, will work with Hinchcliffe

Photo courtesy Audi Sport
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Leena Gade, who helped lead Audi to three wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has joined Schmidt Peterson Motorsports as lead engineer for the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe.

“I’m really honored that I’ve got a chance to come across and work in INDYCAR,” Gade said in a team media release. “When I was a kid, I used to watch Indy car (racing), especially when Nigel Mansell first came over (in 1993), and I followed it quite a lot.

“During my sports car days, it was a little less so, until I had friends come across to the U.S. to work in it like Piers (Phillips, SPM’s general manager).

“I’m quite honored to be given the chance. It is going to be something completely different to anything I’ve ever done before, so it’s a big learning curve, but it’s a challenge that I’m really relishing, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Gade, who grew up in India and is from Great Britain, is one of the most recognized engineers in all forms of international motorsports. She becomes the first female lead engineer in Verizon IndyCar Series history.

She’s also the second female lead engineer in Indy racing history, joining Diane Holl, who served as engineer for Adrian Fernandez, Tony Kanaan (Tasman Motorsports) and Richie Hearn (Della Penna Motorsports) in CART from 1996-2000.

Gade, who holds engineering degrees from the University of Manchester in England, has engineered cars in several race series and for several manufacturers, including F1, BMW, A1 Grand Prix, GT racing, Jaguar, Audi and most recently with Bentley Motorsport.

She became the first female race engineer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011, and followed that up with another Le Mans win in 2012, as well as being part of the World Endurance Championship drivers and manufacturers titles in the same year.

Also in 2012, she was named FIA WEC “Man of the Year” and was awarded the C&R Racing Women in Technology award from the Lyn St. James Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation.

Her team also won Le Mans for a third time in 2014.

“There was significant interest in Leena amongst the international motorsports community, so we’re really excited that she sees where we’re taking SPM, believes in what we’re doing and that she is now a part of our organization,” Piers Phillips said. “ I’ve known Leena for quite some time now and I’ve worked alongside her, so I knew the credit she’s been given is well deserved. We’re very much looking forward to throwing her into the deep end and seeing her add to the team’s success.”

Gade and Hinchcliffe go into the deep end that Phillips referenced when they take part in a team test Jan. 24 at Sebring International Raceway, the first time the pair will work together.