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Stewart gets new crew chief in Johnston

The SportsXchange

Tony Stewart will have a new crew chief when he returns to the Sprint Cup Series next season after a disappointing season when he was sidelined with a broken leg.

Chad Johnston was named Stewart's crew chief on Tuesday for the No. 14 team, replacing Steve Addington, who is expected to join Phoenix Racing. Addington had been Stewart's crew chief for the past two seasons.

"It's a great opportunity for me to be put with someone like Tony Stewart who is a proven winner, a proven champion," Johnston told FoxSports.com. "Obviously, the expectations are high so I'm looking forward to prove what I can do and prove that I deserve this position."

Johnston, formerly of Michael Waltrip Racing, had been the crew chief for Martin Truex Jr. since June 2011.

In two full seasons together Johnston led Truex to the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2012 and a near berth this year before sanctions again MWR resulted in Truex's exclusion from the Chase. Those penalties came after NASCAR determined MWR manipulated the outcome of the Sep. 7 race at Richmond International Speedway.

Stewart, a three-time Cup champion, is expected to be back in time for the start of the 2014 season, which begins Feb. 23 at Daytona International Speedway.

Stewart won three races with Addington in 2012, but struggled through the early part of this season before breaking his leg Aug. 5 in a sprint car accident. The No. 14 team finished 18th in owners' points, using various drivers.

Johnston believes the 42-year-old Stewart will be back to winning form.

"It's like riding a bike," Johnston said. "Tony Stewart will drive the wheels off anything -- doesn't matter what it is, doesn't matter if he drives it once or drives it 100 times. I think everybody's expectations will be to win races and to finish up front every week and make a run at the Chase next year."
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