Eight days after winning the 2011 Sprint Cup title with Darian Grubb, Tony Stewart has a new crew chief.
Steve Addington will replace Grubb as crew chief for the three-time Cup champion at Stewart-Haas Racing, the team announced in a news release Monday.
Addington had served as crew chief for Penske Racing’s Kurt Busch for two seasons, following a nearly two-year stint as crew chief for Kurt’s brother, Kyle, at Joe Gibbs Racing.
Stewart, who told Grubb that he was out of a job six weeks before they won the 2011 Cup title together, knows Addington from their time at JGR.
“I know Steve well, and I know how he goes about setting up a race car,” Stewart said. “My comfort level with him is already strong. He balances the technical part of our sport with the real-world experiences we get at the track, and that will allow for a smooth transition as we prepare to defend our title in 2012.”
Grubb is not expected to return to SHR, which still has openings for a competition director and crew chief for Danica Patrick, who will run a part-time Cup schedule in 2012 and a full-time Cup schedule in 2013.
“Darian was a very important part of the success we’ve had at Stewart-Haas Racing,” Stewart said. “I’m very proud of everything he helped accomplish, especially this year when we all rallied to win the championship.
“He’s a great person and I know he’ll continue to be successful in this sport.”
Addington has won 16 races in the last four years with the Busch brothers.
“Tony and I are a lot alike and we’re able to push each other,” Addington said. “I saw how he worked when we were at Gibbs together and I’m not surprised at all at the success he’s created at Stewart-Haas Racing.
“He expects a lot and he knows a lot. His talent behind the wheel is obvious, but his ability to motivate and get everyone to believe that whatever goal they set is attainable is something every crew chief wants, and I plan to make the most of it.”
Kurt Busch finished 11th in the standings with two wins in each of his two seasons with Addington. The temperamental driver has a reputation for airing his frustrations on is in-car radio, sometimes with Addington bearing the brunt of the criticism. Busch has had four crew chiefs in six years at Penske. No replacement for Addington has been named.
Addington spent 15 seasons as a crew chief in the Nationwide Series, including 11 with Jason Keller. At JGR, he led Mike Bliss to fifth in the Nationwide standings in 2004 and then became the Cup crew chief for Bobby Labonte in 2005.
He worked with Labonte for one season, J.J. Yeley for two seasons and then nearly two seasons with Kyle Busch.
“Steve has proven himself everywhere he’s been,” Stewart added. “Our expectation when we unload each weekend is to win, and that’s Steve’s expectation, too. Getting there is never easy, but we’ve both been around long enough to know what it takes to be successful.”