Sprint Cup series champion Tony Stewart expects to have a better empathy with new crew chief Steve Addington than what he had with Darian Grubb for the past three years.
Earlier this week Stewart Haas Racing announced the hiring of former Penske crew chief Steve Addington to replace Grubb, who went on to win the title this year despite having already been told during the Chase that he wouldn't return in the position with Stewart next year.
While admitting his team was faced with an awkward situation while trying to contend for the title during the Chase, Stewart now expects the transition with Addington to go smoothly as defending champions in 2012. Their recent talks and their previous experiences from working under the same roof in the past make the Sprint Cup champion confident of his decision.
"I had been around Steve at Joe Gibbs Racing, and I felt like he always did a good job over there," Stewart said. "When we made the decision we were going to make a change and we looked at a list of guys we thought were legitimate candidates for it, that came into play a lot.
"I just think our approach, our mindset as far as sitting down and talking to him about what his thoughts are, how he thinks about a race weekend, and mine are a lot more similar than Darian's and mine were."
"It's kind of the weirdest scenario because you just don't see things happen like we did at the end of the year, but the decision was actually made before the Chase started."
Stewart believes that having things clear with Grubb as far as their future together, relieved some of the pressure during the Chase. In fact, after Grubb was informed of the decision, Stewart went on to win three more races during the playoff series, which were crucial to his championship bid.
"When I sat down with Darian and we had the talk and I told him we were going to make a change at the end of the season, the one thing that I wanted him to understand is I didn't want him to leave right away," Stewart said. "I wanted to finish out the year with him."
"I knew that at that point he was going to do whatever he wanted to do. I told him we started this together and I wanted to finish this year together and I will give you 100 percent and I hope you will me and we will see what we can get before it's over with."
He added: "It just seemed like it took a lot of pressure at that point. It was somewhat of a coming to Jesus meeting for both of us. It seemed like Darian's demeanor calmed down after that and it was kind of business as usual.
"The longer this thing went into the Chase, the more we were just determined – we were standing behind each other 100 percent until this thing was over with and we would take what we could get. The good news is we're going to be at the head table on Friday, and we're going to be together and we're going to be able to celebrate our three years together with a championship."
While Stewart has already teamed up with Addington, it remains to be seen where Grubb will end up in 2012.