Kurt Busch's crew chief leaving

Updated: September 14, 2009, 11:17 AM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

RICHMOND, Va. -- Barring a disaster on Saturday night, Kurt Busch will enter the Chase with a lame duck crew chief.

The 2004 Sprint Cup champion confirmed on Friday that Pat Tryson will leave after the season for Michael Waltrip Racing, where he will run the No. 56 team of Martin Truex Jr.

"It's a change that is going to happen," Busch said before qualifying at Richmond International Raceway. "It's unfortunate that Pat made that decision. It seems as if our focus right now should be on the Chase and making it into the Chase.

In a statement on Monday, Tryson said, "Michael Waltrip Racing has really come onto the scene this year and the progress they have made over a very short time is impressive. I believe that I can contribute."

Busch is seventh in points, 96 ahead of 13th-place Brian Vickers. The top 12 will advance to the 10-race playoff beginning next week at New Hampshire.

"The timing isn't all that good, but it never is any good when you want to change directions in life," Busch said. "I did that back in 2005 at Roush Racing. There's never really a good time to bring things up. I can't be disappointed in Pat or upset at Pat. The way he turned our program around in 2007 it put him back on the map, so to speak."

Busch said he and Tryson would remain together throughout the Chase.

"Pat and I had a great run together," he said. "We've still got a lot of work to do."

Busch would not discuss why Tryson is leaving.

Busch was highly critical of Tryson's adjustments during the March race at Martinsville, and team owner Roger Penske had to intervene in a tense exchange over their live radio. Busch and Penske bickered, while Tryson sat silently on the pit box, shaking his head in frustration.

The audio was captured and posted on YouTube.

Information from ESPN.com's David Newton and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter