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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The road to the 2023 Daytona 500 is not paved for Travis Pastrana, he’ll attempt the DIRTcar Nationals

Pastrana DIRTcar Nationals
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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Travis Pastrana will attempt to make his first NASCAR Cup series race on February 19 with the grandaddy of them all, the Daytona 500, but his road to get there will not be paved and his car will have only two fenders as he tackles Florida Speedweeks and the DIRTcar Nationals.

In mid-January, it was announced Pastrana will attempt to qualify a third car from 23XI Racing that fields fulltime entries for Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick. Sponsorship will come from Black Rifle Coffee, who approached him during the offseason to ask what kind of “really cool stuff” he would like to do. Pastrana replied, “the Daytona 500” with a characteristic laugh in his voice.

“It’s good,” Pastrana said in a press release. “We’re going to go down, we’re going to go hangout with [NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion] Matt Crafton, one of [Black Rifle’s] drivers, we’ll go to Modified races and watch all the Late Models. We’ll watch the racing, and we’ll bring [United States military] veterans down and hangout with [Steve] Arpin.”

But there is a saying among dirt track fans that goes, ‘asphalt is for getting to the track; dirt is for racing’ – and Pastrana is taking that to heart.

After racing on the snow in Nitro Rallycross February 4-5 in Calgary, Alberta, the original plan was to head to Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida to watch the modified and late model races. Until Crafton called him out for not racing.

Pastrana relayed the conversation: “I told Crafton [I was coming to watch] and he goes, ‘Ah, too much of a sissy to drive?’ I called Arpin, and said, ‘So, Longhorn, I heard you guys have vehicles that can kick the crap out of Crafton’s vehicle.’ [Arpin] said, ‘Yeah, if you don’t suck, you can beat him.’ I said, ‘Alright, I’m in.’”

The DIRTcar Nationals run from February 6-18. The first week features six UMP Modified Mains each night they run, on Monday (Feb. 6), Friday (Feb. 10), and then the prestigious Gator Championship race on Saturday (Feb. 11). Pastrana hopes to run every night in one of Arpin’s cars, also with sponsorship from Black Riffle Coffee.

And this is not just for bragging rights; there is money on the line. Pastrana and Crafton have a $1 bet on who has the best finish.

While Pastrana is accustomed pitching his car sideways on a combination of left and right turns in a rally car – he won the Nitro Rallycross race at ERX Motorsports Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota last October and became the first two-time winner in the 2022/23 season at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, Arizona in November – the DIRTcar Nationals will be an entirely different proposition.

It took a day for Pastrana to get comfortable in the modified. And it took a little coaching from Arpin, who has experience in both dirt modifieds and rally cars to make him fast.

“[Arpin] showed up the second day after hearing how bad the first day was,” Pastrana said, which is confirmed in the Instagram post embedded above. “But he just told me, until you commit, it’s not going to work. Once I committed, it started making a lot of sense. But coming in, if you’re lifting off the gas while trying to turn, it just doesn’t turn and all your natural instincts say, ‘Don’t get on the gas.’ So, yeah, I feel like it should suit my driving style because I’m more of an aggressive sideways type of driver, but it was very difficult. Turning and sliding, I’m fine. Getting it there is not the easiest.”

Pastrana has one previous start in a dirt late model that came in the 2010 Prelude to the Dream. He finished 23rd in the 27-car field and was three laps off the pace. He wasn’t the only driver having difficulty getting a feel for the car that night; Jeff Gordon finished on the same lap, only one position ahead of him.

Travis Pastrana will race one of Steve Arpin’s dirt modifieds during Florida Speedweeks as he prepares for the 2023 Daytona 500. – Jacy Norgaard, World Racing Group

The price of the weekend could well exceed the dollar he may lose to Crafton.

“It’s going to be an expensive weekend,” Pastrana said. “Not everything is covered. If I crash anything, it is going to be all on me. This is one of those things where I want to come down and have fun. I want to hang out with the crowd, I want to sign autographs and give high fives. Especially for the Modified crew, that’s the grassroots racing that I love and some of my friends are involved with. We’ll be camping down there with Arpin and all the Longhorn guys, just hanging out. I feel like that’s a great opportunity for us to bring a lot of [US] veterans and bring people that are into racing and aren’t into racing, friends and family, and just have an awesome time.”

And it’s not out of the question that Pastrana could add another top-10 to his record book in the DIRTcar Nationals. After the rocky first day, Pastrana gained speed. Enough so that Arpin’s confidence was raised.

“We’re pretty confident Crafton is going to have to run hard to keep his dollar,” Arpin said.