November 28, 2011
In a move that could legitimately qualify as NASCAR karma, Steve Addington, former crew chief for Kurt Busch, will take over the same position for reigning Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Jo -- oh, wait, sorry, Tony Stewart. (Going to take a little getting used to, that.)
Anyway, in all seriousness, Addington has just been named the crew chief for Stewart's No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 team, effective right now. Addington won 16 Sprint Cup-level races while crewing for both Kyle Busch (12 wins) and Kurt Busch (4 wins), and if you heard any of Kurt Busch's radio transmissions, you know that Addington must have either alligator-thick skin or selective deafness. In his career, Addington has also crewed for J.J. Yeley and Bobby Labonte.
Addington marks only the third crew chief Stewart has had in his championship career, after Greg Zipadelli and Darian Grubb, and to hear Stewart say it (at least in a press release), all will work out just fine: "I know Steve well and I know how he goes about setting up a racecar. 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."
Of course, Grubb's status as fired-but-not-yet-gone crew chief was the most uncomfortable element of last week's championship celebrations. Stewart refused to give Grubb a vote of confidence even as the confetti was still flying.
"Darian was a very important part of the success we've had at Stewart-Haas Racing," Stewart said in a statement. "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."
Just prior to the release of the announcement, Rick Hendrick confirmed that he has been in discussion with Grubb and has offered him an engineering position, since there are currently no open crew-chief jobs at HMS. But Hendrick added that Grubb has "a lot of offers."
You know, Grubb is a crew chief in search of a job. And we can now think of at least one driver who's in need of a crew chief, can't we?
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