Tag:Tony Stewart
Posted on: December 14, 2011 4:03 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 4:47 pm
 

Major changes impact powerhouse teams

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Despite winning a Sprint Cup title with Tony Stewart, Darian Grubb was sent packing from Stewart-Haas Racing)

There’s a nasty rumor floating around about NASCAR supposedly being in off-season mode. 

In reality the sport has been in overdrive since the last checkered flag of the 2011 season flew at Homestead-Miami Speedway less than a month ago. 

A flurry of moves by a number of race teams including driver changes, crew chief swaps and sponsorship deals has dramatically altered the Sprint Cup Series landscape. 

Many of the sport’s powerhouse teams have been involved in this winter madness and here’s a look at how the three biggest changes so far will impact the 2012 campaign:

Steve Addington Named Crew Chief for Tony Stewart 

Even winning five races during the Chase and helping guide Stewart to the Sprint Cup Series championship wasn’t enough for Darian Grubb to keep his job with SHR. The wheels to bring Addington in to replace Grubb were set in motion before the Chase really got rolling and Stewart stuck to his vision for the team even though he took home the title. 

The pairing of Stewart and Addington has the potential to be special. The two share similar backgrounds as former short trackers and also spent time together under the Joe Gibbs Racing umbrella. Both are veterans of the sport and perhaps more importantly are friends, a relationship that could pay dividends in the performance department. 

“Tony and myself, we’re cut from the same cloth,” Addington said of his relationship with Stewart. “Dirt tracks are where I grew up, short tracks and stuff like that. We stayed in communication from our Gibbs days.”

While Addington has remained professional in addressing his departure from Penske Racing and the stresses dealing with the Kurt Busch situation, he has to be thrilled for a fresh start with a race team fresh off a championship run. He’ll be under some pressure as the guy coming in to replace Grubb’s championship effort, but Addington and Stewart should be a formidable duo in their own right.

 

Darian Grubb Replaces Mike Ford as Denny Hamlin’s Crew Chief 

It didn’t take Grubb long to find a landing spot as Joe Gibbs Racing scooped him up to call the shot for Hamlin. 

While it was somewhat of a surprise that Ford fell out of favor with the team only a year removed from leading Hamlin to eight victories and within a whisker of the Cup crown, it was apparent the chemistry inside the No. 11 Fed Ex team was completely gone this past season. So rather than try to recreate what was once there, JGR management decided to try a new direction and bring in Grubb to turn the tide. 

Grubb had other options including a return to Hendrick Motorsports in an engineering role, where he spent the first part of his career. But even after the bittersweet way he ended his tenure with SHR, Grubb wanted another opportunity to climb atop the war wagon. 

"Right now, I still have that competitive fire in me," Grubb said. "I feel like if I'm not in that position on top of the box being able to make those calls and seat-of-the-pants decisions, then I'd really be missing out on something. I want to continue that." 

Grubb’s biggest challenge with JGR may not be building chemistry with Hamlin and helping the team find its lost cohesiveness. There were bigger issues at play within the entire organization last season, not the least of which was the myriad of engine woes that plagued the three car stable. 

Gibbs feels those problems have been addressed as the team moves into a tighter relationship with Toyota Research Development (TRD) on the engine program for 2012. But until those are completely solved, Grubb and Hamlin will have a tough road ahead trying to return to the ranks as championship contenders.

 

Kurt Busch Leaves Penske Racing 

Whether it was a “mutual decision” or a plain old firing, the bottom line is Busch is no longer the driver of the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge. 

The 2004 Sprint Cup Series champion insists he has options to remain at the Cup level with a competitive team and it appears one of those was with Richard Petty Motorsports and the No. 43 entry. But a report that Busch declined an opportunity to potentially replace A.J. Allmendinger in the ride keeps his immediate future very much a mystery. 

But even though sources continue to point to David Ragan to be everything but a done deal as Busch’s replacement, the team has not officially filled the seat on the No. 22. 

“We’re continuing to evaluate our options and make the best decision for this organization and our race team,” said Penske President Tim Cindric. 

But the longer the saga plays out the tougher it will be for Penske to get the 22 team up to speed for the coming season.

The team did address its vacant crew chief role by elevating Todd Gordon from Penske's Nationwide Series program to the Sprint Cup effort.

There was some speculation that Ford would slide into the open position and work with Ragan or whoever winds up behind the wheel. But based on Penske’s past, the more likely scenario was to promote someone from within the organization, ala Paul Wolfe being moved into the crew chief role for Brad Keselowski after a successful run in the Nationwide Series. 

Gordon got the call to follow in Wolfe's tracks and now awaits who he'll work with behind the wheel.

 
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Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:39 am
Edited on: December 13, 2011 10:41 am
 

Stewart named Driver of the Year

Posted by Pete Pistone

NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart was named winner of the 2011 Driver of they Year Award today.

Stewart, the 2011 Cup champion, was awarded the honor by a panel of leading motorsports journalists and broadcasters.

Stewart, who is also co-owner of the Stewart-Haas Racing team for which he drives, was also the leading vote-getter in balloting for the separate Fourth Quarter Driver of the Year Award it was announced Tuesday.

“I have a lot of pride in this,” Stewart said of being named winner of the DOTYs. “This is an award that comes from a highly esteemed group. These are the awards that mean the most.”

Stewart won the Cup championship with dramatic flair. Winless heading into the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship playoff, the Indiana-native won five times during the Chase.

He started the final race of the year in second place – three points behind Carl Edwards. In that race – the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway – Stewart finished first and Edwards finished second. They tied in points but Stewart won the championship on tie-breaking criteria as he had won more races during the season than had Edwards.

The DOTY is the oldest and most prestigious award of its kind.

In its 45 year, the DOTY Award encompasses all racing series and drivers in the United States. A panel of 19 leading journalists and broadcasters from across the country cast votes this year.

Stewart won the vote in a landslide.

Those who voted in a secret ballot, gave Stewart 15 votes. Edwards, Dario Franchitti of the IndyCar Series, Jason Meyers of the World of Outlaws Series and NHRA Top Fuel champion Del Worsham all received one vote.

In the quarterly voting, Stewart beat Edwards and Meyers, getting all but one of the first-place votes.

“The last quarter was a history-maker, for sure,” Stewart said. “There are so many champions honored this way (the Award). It’s just amazing I don’t know how to put it words. It’s truly an honor.”

Barry Schmoyer, president of the of the Driver of the Year Foundation, said, “It’s certainly ironic that last year’s vote involved a spirited debate, but this year’s was a slam dunk.

“Stewart’s come from behind victory at Homestead will thrill fans for ages.”

Stewart will receive trophies and Tissot wristwatches as part of the award.


 
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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: December 9, 2011 10:58 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 11:01 am
 

Gibbs hires Grubb as Hamlin's crew chief

By Pete Pistone

The game of NASCAR crew chief musical chairs continued on Friday when Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Darian Grubb would call the shots for Denny Hamlin and the FedEx Toyota next season.

Grubb led Tony Stewart to this year's Sprint Cup title but was released by Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of the year.

He now takes over for the disposed Mike Ford to work as Hamlin's crew chief in 2012.

"Darian is a great addition to our organization and person to lead our #11 FedEx team," said team owner Joe Gibbs. "Obviously he has proven the ability to guide a team to a championship and we are excited to have him working with Denny (Hamlin) toward achieving that goal here at Joe Gibbs Racing."  

Grubb spent the last three seasons at SHR after a long career with Hendrick Motorsports. He's excited about joining another top organization at JGR.

"I'm thrilled to join Joe Gibbs Racing," said Grubb. "The chance to work with Denny is something I'm excited about. When you sit down with Joe and J.D. Gibbs you can't help but be excited about this opportunity and the team aspects of JGR. There is no question about the level of support you get here and I'm looking forward to working with everyone across the entire organization."

Speculation is that Ford, who guided Hamlin to eight victories a year ago as well as one win and a Chase berth this season, will join Penske Racing to crew chief for the team's new driver in the No. 22 Dodge.

 
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Posted on: December 8, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 5:10 pm
 

Driver lineup set for January NASCAR preview

By Pete Pistone

Some of NASCAR's top stars will be on hand for the inaugural NASCAR Acceleration Weekend in January at Charlotte's Hall of Fame.

The January 21 event will include a variety of fan interactive attractions as well as driver appearances for autographs and question and answer sessions.

Series champion Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt lead the list of drivers who will attend the preview along with eleven others. 

NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented by Sprint is a new addition to the annual calendar. Reminiscent of popular season-preview events of the past, the festival-like event will feature driver and show car appearances, simulators, games, prizes and a host of other fan-friendly and interactive activities. The event is part of the three-day NASCAR Acceleration Weekend from Jan. 20-22 in Charlotte, N.C. that gives race fans an unprecedented experience through a combination of events and activities featuring the legends of the sport and stars of today.

The weekend will begin Friday, January 20, with the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for the Class of 2012, which features Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Dale Inman, Richie Evans and Glen Wood. Following Saturday’s NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented by Sprint event will be the unveiling of the Class of 2012 exhibits in the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Sunday, Jan. 22.

Stewart and other NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers will sign autographs in the Ballroom of the Charlotte Convention Center starting at 9:15 a.m. on Saturday, January 21. Beginning Saturday at 7 a.m. in the Charlotte Convention Center Ballroom, wristbands will be distributed to a limited number of fans. Recipients must have an event ticket to be eligible to receive a wristband.

Driver Appearance Times (Jan. 21, 2012)

9:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. – Kyle Busch & Matt Kenseth

10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson & Denny Hamlin

11:45 a.m. – 1:45 p.m. – Brad Keselowski

12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. – Kevin Harvick & Greg Biffle

12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Kasey Kahne & Ryan Newman

2:45 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. & Juan Pablo Montoya

3:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. – Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards & Kurt Busch

 
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Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:30 pm
 

Kyle Busch leads TV exposure in 2011

Posted by Pete Pistone

Kyle Busch's Sprint Cup Series campaign led to $68 million of television exposure for his sponsors, a figure higher than any other driver managed to generate this past season, and nearly $1.7 million more than Series Champion Tony Stewart.

Those were the findings after research conducted by Joyce Julius & Associates, Inc. — which has monitored every NASCAR race telecast over the last 27 seasons and calculated exposure generated for hundreds of sponsors and companies.

Busch's sponsors as a group appeared for 27 hours, 23 minutes, 10 seconds (27:23:10) during live and replayed telecasts of the season's 36 points races. When also factoring in verbal mentions (292) of Busch's sponsors, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver amassed more than $68.3 million of in-broadcast exposure value for his backing brands.

Joyce Julius calculates television exposure value by comparing the in-broadcast visual and verbal exposure to the estimated cost of a national commercial during the telecast and applying Joyce Julius Recognition Grading — which takes into account such factors as size and placement of the image on screen, as well as brand clutter and integration of the brand into the activity.

While Busch hung on to lead the driver exposure battle wire-to-wire, Stewart's stellar run during this year's Chase may be more impressive, as the newly crowned champion moved up from 9th to 2nd in cumulative sponsor brand exposure, improving from $30 million at the start of the final 10 races to $66.7 million by season's end.

Stewart's dominance during the Chase race broadcasts is further evidenced by the attention paid to him by the TV announcers. Stewart began the Chase 6th in individual driver mentions, but ended the season on top, collecting 57% of his driver mentions for the entire season during the final 10 races. Stewart also amassed the most interview time of any driver, appearing on camera for more than one hour, 20 minutes throughout 2011.

Series points runner-up Carl Edwards managed to accrue the most mentions for his sponsors (610), while he was also interviewed most frequently (75 times) of any other driver.

Not surprisingly, Stewart was the top exposure-gathering Chevrolet driver, collecting $6.3 for the auto brand. Edwards led the Ford drivers, delivering $8.1 million of in-broadcast exposure, while the attention Busch drew during 2011 race broadcasts led to $11.9 million for Toyota.

 
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Posted on: December 3, 2011 10:20 am
Edited on: December 3, 2011 12:07 pm
 

Tony Stewart officially honored as Cup champion

By Pete Pistone


  Series Champion Tony Stewart Speaks
(Tony Stewart speaks during the Sprint Cup Series Champion's Week Awards Ceremony.)

The final piece of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season was put into place Friday night when Tony Stewart was officially honored as champion during the annual awards ceremony in Las Vegas.

Stewart claimed his third career Sprint Cup title in dramatic fashion winning five of the ten races inside the Chase for the Sprint Cup and won the championship in a tiebreaker over Carl Edwards. 

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse presented Stewart with a check for $5.8 million for winning the championship.

"I am privileged to be among those recognizing Tony Stewart and the number 14 team for their third NASCAR Sprint Cup championship – joining the ranks of legendary drivers Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson and Lee Petty, who all hold three Cup titles," said Hesse, in the wake of an earlier announcement that Sprint will remain as series sponsor through the 2016 season. "Tony’s down-to-the-last second duel with Carl Edwards was a stunning example of the competitive spirit that drives the sport and why we love NASCAR.” 

The presentation was held at the Wynn Hotel and featured the top ten drivers in the final point standings accepting honors and checks from the end of season Sprint Cup point fund. Performances by host Reba McEntire, Kid Rock and the cast of “Jersey Boys” highlighted the proceedings, which culminated with Stewart’s championship acceptance speech. 

When it was over Stewart reflected on the busy week spent in Las Vegas with the other eleven Chase drivers. 

“It’s been a fun week,” Stewart said. “It’s been fun to be around these guys and not compete, to just enjoy it. To be up there getting your awards, it’s somewhat of a surreal moment. It’s the first time all week I’ve gotten to sit down in one spot for more than 10 minutes.” 

Despite enjoying the honor as well as the spectacle of what NASCAR’s “Champion’s Week” has become, Stewart said he’s ready to get back to his full-time job of driving a stock car. 

“I’m really glad I get to put on a helmet and get in a car every week versus having to get up in front of a crowd like that,” Stewart said. “But it’s an honor to hear nine guys talk about how good a job you did, knowing those guys could be in the same position we’re in in any given year. It’s an honor to hear all that.” 

During his acceptance speech, Stewart tipped his cap to Edwards and the incredible championship battle.

“I remember hearing the comment that you said to your wife about that if you lost the race, you would be the best loser NASCAR’s ever had,” Stewart said to Edwards. “Buddy, I can promise you, you’re a winner. You’re never going to be a loser. I appreciate the run that we had and most of all, I appreciate that you brought out the best in both of us.

“That was an awesome championship battle that I will never forget the rest of my life.”

Stewart continued his laid back approach that was evident the entire Las Vegas week. He was joined at the head table by his entire team including co-owner Gene Haas and his mother.

"I know everybody has talked about their wives and I don’t’ have a wife but I’ve got a really hot date tonight," Stewart cracked." And that’s Gene’s mom, Margaret. What can I say? I like cougars. … No, I’m kidding.” 

As for the immediate future, the three-time champion plans to enjoy some down time in the off-season before getting back to work in defense of his title, which will include working with new crew chief Steve Addington, who was brought in from Penske Racing to replace Darian Grubb atop the war wagon. 

“I’m going to spend a lot more time in Charlotte this winter,” Stewart said. “We have a lot of stuff to do to get ready for Danica’s (Patrick)  program. You can stand here and be the last guy to go up and get an award, but if you don’t start now working for next year, you could very easily not even be in the running.”

 
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Posted on: November 30, 2011 9:09 pm
 

Stewart stars in second day of Champion's Week

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

Tony Stewart’s on a roll. And that’s a good feeling when you’re in Las Vegas.

Stewart and Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Ryan Newman won Wednesday’s “This Ain’t the Newlywed Game,” a riff on the television original hosted by Bob Eubanks. Stewart and Newman edged the team of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch by most accurately recalling the estimated attendance of March’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The game had a myriad of humorous moments – some broad, others ribald – and in some cases more resembled a roast of the top 12 finishers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™.

Stewart, who suggested engineering graduate Newman would be a better driver “if he didn’t think all the time,” got in the final zinger to his teammate’s incorrect answer that he would be the driver the champion most likely would bump out of the way on the final lap to win the race. 

“I figured you’d pick me,” said a disappointed Newman. Stewart answered, “There you go thinking again.” Stewart thought Newman’s answer would’ve been “Brian Vickers.” 

Carl Edwards said Roush Fenway Racing partner Matt Kenseth would be a better driver “if he didn’t qualify in the back.” Kenseth responded, “Are you kidding me? I beat Ryan Newman for poles this year.” Actually, they both won three Coors Light Poles during the 2011 season.

Kenseth set up Eubanks by telling Edwards his most annoying habit was always being late. Eubanks said, “Even late crossing the finish line” in reference to Edwards’ second-place finish to Stewart in the championship deciding race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“This could be the end of my career,” said Eubanks. “I’m not sure I’ll ever do it again but it’s been fun.”

The Newlywed-style event, held on downtown Las Vegas’ historic Fremont Street Experience, drew several thousand fans. Some carried signs welcoming their favorite drivers.

The six teams were comprised of Stewart/Newman, Hamlin/Kyle Busch, Edwards/Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr./Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon/Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski/Kurt Busch. 

There were other activities as well, as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week rolled into its second day working toward Friday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Banquet at Wynn Las Vegas, a signature event that will feature same day coverage (9 p.m. ET) by SPEED, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and MRN Radio.

Travis Pastrana sat for a featured one-on-one interview during Wednesday’s second and final day of the Motorsports Marketing Forum at Caesars Palace. Pastrana noted his recovery process from a broken ankle, which delayed his NASCAR Nationwide Series career, saying, “I actually became a bigger fan and feel like I learned a lot by watching on television.”

Pastrana said the biggest challenge he faces in 2012 is working with crew chief and crew to make the optimum adjustments. “In Rally, if you want to make up time, you can take chances to jump up further,” he said. “In NASCAR, you really have to not only know what the car is doing, but how to relate that.”

Stewart hosts the popular 5th Annual “Stewie Awards” with co-host Matt Yocum at 9:30 p.m. ET Thursday on the SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90. The Stewies honor the best, boldest and funniest moments from the NASCAR season.

Thursday is Champion’s Week longest day with the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon, NASCAR Victory Lap and NASCAR After the Lap on the schedule. Details can be found below.

Media members still have the opportunity to vote on the greatest moments during the 2011 NASCAR national series season. Among the nominations are Stewart’s come-from-behind championship run and Trevor Bayne’s surprising and dramatic Daytona 500 victory. Results will be announced beginning early next week. To vote: http://bit.ly/2011topstories.

Thursday, Dec. 1

· NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon: Beginning at 11 a.m. in the Bellagio Ballroom at the Bellagio, this annual industry/media gathering includes the presentation of awards to the Champion Crew Chief (Darian Grubb), Champion Sponsor (Office Depot and Mobil 1), Sunoco Rookie of the Year (Andy Lally) and Most Popular Driver (to be announced). Co-hosted by NASCAR and the National Motor Sports Press Association, fans can attend this exclusive event for the second-consecutive year. Fans can watch the event on NASCAR.COM via this link:http://www.nascar.com/Myers_Brother
s_Luncheon

· NASCAR Victory Lap: Set for 3 p.m., the fan-favorite NASCAR Victory Lap will feature the top 12 drivers parading – with engines growling – down the famed Las Vegas strip in their teams’ respective race cars. NASCAR Victory Lap will feature an authentic pit stop along the route and two burn-out sections for drivers. NASCAR Victory Lap will start in front of Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino on Las Vegas Boulevard and end at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Fans can watch the event on NASCAR.COM via this link: http://www.nascar.com/Victory_Lap

· Coca-Cola Fan Zone: Fans can get a front-row seat for the conclusion of NASCAR Victory Lap at the Coca-Cola Fan Zone, a free event located at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas. Beginning at noon, the Coca-Cola Fan Zone offers interactive displays from The Sprint Experience, Game Show Network, Ford, Coca-Cola, and is a prelude to NASCAR After the Lap. 

· NASCAR After the Lap: Starting at 4:30 p.m., NASCAR After The Lap is one of the highlights of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week. Tickets for the third-annual event will be available for purchase at www.NASCARAfterTheLap.com for $20 each, with proceeds benefitting The NASCAR Foundation, a non-profit organization which raises funds that support children’s charities and important causes throughout the nation. Sponsored by Ford Motor Company and Coca-Cola, the event is renowned for its unfiltered, “tell-all” format featuring the 2011 top-12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers. Fans can watch the event on NASCAR.COM via this link: http://www.nascar.com/After_The_Lap

· The 5th Annual Stewie Awards: A champion’s week tradition, 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart and co-host Matt Yocum return to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas for the 5th Annual Stewie Awards, broadcast live on the SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90 at 9:30 p.m. ET. The annual highlight of NASCAR Champion’s Week honors the best, boldest and funniest moments from the NASCAR season. Here’s the link for the list of awards: http://www.siriusxm.com/stewieaward
s
. 

Friday, Dec. 2

2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony: The big show starts at 6 p.m. (9 p.m. ET), crowning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion driver and owner and honoring the other drivers who finished in the top 10 in the final series standings. The star-studded entertainment lineup for the ceremony includes country music icon Reba as host, a performance by Grammy-award winning rocker Kid Rock, as well as performances by two recent additions: up-and-coming country artist Ella Mae Bowen and Broadway sensation Jersey Boys.

• Sixteen-year-old Ella Mae Bowen is an emerging country singer-songwriter who is featured on the new “Footloose” soundtrack with her enthralling remake of "Holding Out For a Hero". Bowen is originally from Walhalla, South Carolina, and is currently signed with Big Machine Label Group, which is the record label home to country superstars like Reba, Taylor Swift and Martina McBride. Click here for a photo of Bowen. 

• “Jersey Boys” is the smash-hit musical winner of the 2006 Tony Award on Broadway and Best Musical accolades in both London and Australia. This critically-acclaimed musical tells the tale of four blue-collar boys working their way from the streets of Newark to the top of the charts taking audiences behind the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Jersey Boys, voted #1 show in Las Vegas by the Las Vegas Review Journal, is currently performing at The Palazzo and is coming to Paris Las Vegas in March 2012. Click here for a photo of Jersey Boys.

SPEED, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and MRN Radio provide same-day coverage, starting at 9 p.m. ET.

 
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Posted on: November 28, 2011 11:25 am
 

Steve Addington named Tony Stewart's crew chief

Posted by Pete Pistone

Speculation became official Monday when Stewart-Haas Racing announced Steve Addington would move from Penske Racing to crew chief Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart in 2012:

From News Release

KANNAPOLIS, N.C., (Nov. 28, 2011) – Steve Addington, winner of 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races as a crew chief, has been named to the same position for three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart and the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 team of Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) effective immediately. 

The Spartanburg, S.C., native is only the third crew chief Stewart has had during his 13-year Sprint Cup career, and it comes just a week after Stewart captured the 2011 Sprint Cup title. 

“I know Steve well and I know how he goes about setting up a racecar,” said Stewart, who worked with Addington from 2005 through 2008 during his time at Joe Gibbs Racing. “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 has served as crew chief for Bobby Labonte (2005), J.J. Yeley (2006-2007), Kyle Busch (2008-race No. 33 of 2009) and Kurt Busch (2010-2011) during his ongoing Sprint Cup career. Twelve wins were scored with Kyle Busch at Joe Gibbs Racing and four wins were notched with older brother Kurt during his most recent tenure at Penske Racing. 

Prior to rising to the elite Sprint Cup ranks, Addington spent 15 seasons as a crew chief in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, 11 of which came with driver Jason Keller where the duo won 10 races, 11 poles and scored 69 top-five and 122 top-10 finishes. 

“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.” 

Addington has proven he can win with all kinds of drivers at all kinds of tracks. From the quiet and low-key drivers of Keller and Mike Bliss, whom Addington worked with in the Nationwide Series, to the competitive personalities of Kyle and Kurt Busch, Addington has steered his pilots to victory, and he’s done so at every conceivable type of racetrack – superspeedways, road courses, intermediates and short tracks. 

“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.” 

Addington replaces Darian Grubb, who served as Stewart’s crew chief since the inception of SHR in 2009. 

“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.”

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