PYLE PEARCHES MCGOWAN ON TOP OF BOX by Jeremy Troiano
Veteran Crew Chief Looks For Another Championship
Imagine Robbie Pyle only five laps from his second career American Speed Association win. Imagine Gary St. Amant, in his new Jani-King #86 ride, following a close second with a Bud Gebben car running a strong third.
Imagine what might be running through crew chief Bill McGowan's head.
"It would be cool, especially if we finished in that order," said McGowan. "I think there's potential for that to happen. I would be overjoyed to see it."
And that would be a good thing for Pyle, who hopes to have his most successful ASA season to date. Pyle helped himself and his WalTom Racing team move a
step closer after the recent addition of veteran crew chief McGowan, who won two ASA National Championships with driver St. Amant and car owner Gebben.
"Everyone is really excited around here," said Pyle, who is in the process of preparing cars for the 2003 season at the WalTom shops just outside Chicago. "You just don't get any more experience than Bill McGowan. His track record stands by itself.
"Bill knew we were looking and we talked about it several times and finally came to an agreement. From day one, he has been a big confidence booster for our team."
McGowan travels from his home in Michigan to the Chicago area every weekend to help the team prepare for the season. McGowan spent the last several years working with Gary St. Amant, with two ASA National Championships to his credit and numerous wins.
"I didn't know if I was going to be doing anything or not," said McGowan. "At one point I was really considering getting out of racing somewhat altogether. Then, I thought, there is no way I want to do that now. So I gave Robbie a call and asked him if he found anyone yet and if he hadn't, if he would throw my name in the hat and think about it. He said that he didn't have to think about it much. It started from there.
"I'm excited about the change, but most excited because they are an established team. They might have
not had the year they wanted, but they were successful. They had some good runs, some poles and have some great people working for them. Robbie has a wonderful relationship with Chas Howe and the Howe cars."
Pyle admits that McGowan's hardest hurdle may be the fact that McGowan has a lot of knowledge with Port City race cars and Pyle uses only Howe cars.
"It will be different, but I ran a Howe car years ago," said McGowan. "But in reality, it is all iron. It is only a Howe if you call it one. Really, it is just a bunch of steel tubing welded together and it is your job to figure out how to make it run."
It will be a challenge, as Pyle has known nothing but being a hands-on driver, and that is something that people have said might have taken away from his on-track performances. One of the top priorities McGowan wants to accomplish in '03 is changing that.
It could be a big year for the Citgo team in '03.
Robbie Pyle will have a new guy calling the shots and it could work out for a championship.
"Robbie has been a hands-on crew chief and driver and everything when he drives," said McGowan. "He has always been hands on, but we are going to try and get him back into the driver part of it. He will still always be hands on, but we are working on getting him laid back some. We want to take some of those duties off of him and put them on the team."
Normally, it may take some time for a new crew chief and driver to gel and work out their chemistry, but thanks to the positive relationships between Pyle & St. Amant and St. Amant & McGowan, the relationship between Pyle and McGowan has already been forged.
"He was one of the guys I would go to with questions in my past years if something was bugging me or I just needed some general help on something," said Pyle. "He is a very open, honest person. He wouldn't hide too much from me, so we forged a pretty good relationship."
McGowan knows the team can be and should be a championship contender, but has his goals set a little lower.
"I think the best goal would just be to have the team finish better than they did last year."
You can bet, when Pyle is racing St. Amant and that Gebben-owned car to the line for the win in Cedar Rapids, McGowan will be smiling from ear to ear, especially if his car crosses the line in just that spot.
With McGowan on the box, the Citgo team hopes to keep instances like these at a minimus this year.