Less than a week after his departure from Penske Racing, Steve Addington shifts to Stewart-Haas Racing for 2012, where he replaces Darian Grubb as crew chief for newly crowned three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart. The move, effective immediately, sees Stewart working with only his third different crew chief in the Cup ranks after previous stints with Grubb and longtime Joe Gibbs Racing crew chief Greg Zipadelli.
Addington was crew chief to Stewart's JGR teammates Bobby Labonte, J.J. Yeley and Kyle Busch while Stewart was still with the team, before Stewart moved to SHR in 2009.
“I know Steve well and I know how he goes about setting up a racecar,” 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.”
Addington spent the last four years working with the Busch brothers, Kyle for two seasons and Kurt from 2010-'11. He has 15 years experience of working with Nationwide Series drivers in the time before he moved up to the Cup level.
“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.”
The move makes Grubb officially a free agent, and eliminates the possibility he would remain with SHR in another role, perhaps as competition director. There remain some other high-profile crew chief vacancies in the garage area, and he reportedly has held talks with Hendrick Motorsports about rejoining the team he left to join SHR.
“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.”