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 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.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski