For two weeks this past May, no one in NASCAR flew higher -- or rather, faster -- than driver Kurt Busch.
Wheeling his familiar No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge for Penske Racing, Busch won the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the $1 million prize that went along with it at Charlotte Motor Speedway, then backed that up eight days later by capturing one of the sport's most prestigious points races, the Coca-Cola 600, at the same venue.
"That cat right there is amazing," Addington said. "Honestly, I have never worked for anybody like him. I tried to figure out his emotions and stuff like that, and I just let it be now. I learned he's going to get all he can out of a race car."
Considering the fact that Addington worked as crew chief for Kurt's younger brother, Kyle, for 69 points races prior to last season, the man obviously knows what he's talking about when it comes to the talented but often volatile Busch brothers.
Addington was fired from his job as Kyle's crew chief late in the 2009 season. Shortly thereafter, Kurt asked Kyle for Addington's phone number -- and soon after that, a new partnership was formed.
It blossomed early during the 2010 season, as the pair also teamed up to win on another 1.5-mile track in the spring race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. That victory vaulted them to sixth in the point standings. They eventually advanced as high as fourth on three different occasions, the last coming following a fourth-place finish at Dover in the second Chase race.
Unfortunately for them, the season quickly spiraled downhill after that.
Busch's worst finishes included 35th at Las Vegas and the spring Phoenix race, and a 40th at the second of two Michigan races. But it was the No. 2 Dodge's free-fall in the Chase after Dover that was the real lowlight of the season. After rising to fourth in the standings following that race -- one in which Busch rallied mightily after blistering his crew with one of his typical verbal tirades mid-way through -- the driver finished no higher than 13th in each of the next six races, including four finishes of 21st or worse and a pair of 30th-place efforts. One of the 30th-place finishes came at Talladega, but the other came at the same Charlotte track where he had dominated only five months earlier.
Busch ended up finishing 11th in points, besting only Jeff Burton during the Chase. He said the problem was consistency.
"Right now we're a little further behind than where we want to be," the driver admitted. "We have to build some consistency back into the program. ... We're going to have to continue to fight harder and get ourselves up in the mix with the [Joe] Gibbs [Racing] and Hendrick [Motorsports] guys week in and week out."
Next season Busch will attempt to do so in a new car -- as he will be switching from the No. 2 Dodge to the No. 22 that will be sponsored by Shell-Pennzoil . Addington said that his driver often is misunderstood, that Busch's frequent outbursts over the team radio during races are nothing but minor distractions that only display a deep-seated passion for winning. He also insisted that Busch doesn't get the credit he deserves as a driver.
"I would rather have him than anybody else sitting in that race car, when it comes down to it," Addington said. "He has shown me a lot -- how he is patient through practice and what he picks up during a race."
He explained how Busch frequently spends hours after a practice session talking with him about ways they can get the car to go faster.
"I don't think he's as flamboyant as some people, as far as going out and grabbing the media's attention," Addington said. "I think that's why we get along so well. We're here to work on race cars. We're here to try to win races week in and week out. We're sitting in the lounge for two or three hours after practices, talking about how to make the race car better."