Friday, October 14, 2011

What has happened to crew chief loyalty in NASCAR? (

(Originally appeared July 22, 2011, on

Greg Erwin. Brian Pattie. Mike Shiplett. Pat Tryson.

In most instances, that quartet would be considered an all-star group of outstanding crew chiefs.

Sadly, during the last month, all four have either been fired or reassigned to other roles within their respective racing organizations.

Erwin, who was forced out of his job as Greg Biffle's crew chief, found a new job within a week as A.J. Allmendinger's crew chief. Erwin and Biffle had been a successful combination for the previous three seasons, but with Biffle in 14th place and on shaky ground to make the Chase in 2011, Erwin was initially reassigned within Roush Fenway Racing. He hooked on with Allmendinger and Richard Petty Motorsports less than a week later.

Wouldn't it be ironic if 'Dinger makes the Chase with Erwin and Biffle doesn't without Erwin?

The biggest surprise in the shuffle of crew chief chairs came earlier this week when Pattie was knocked off of Juan Pablo Montoya's pit box - less than two seasons after engineering JPM's first and only ascent into the 2009 Chase. How can we forget Pattie's strategy of consistency and foregoing wins in favor of top-five and top-10 finishes, that got Montoya into the Chase? The strategy has been replicated by several other teams since then. Pattie will remain in a different role with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, although his present contract reportedly is up at year's end.

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