Addington Ready for New Challenge

Steve Addington

Addington: “Tony (Stewart) and myself, we’re cut from the same cloth." (Photo: Getty Images)

Steve Addington is set to try and guide Tony Stewart to a second-straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in 2012.

Addington left Penske Racing at the end of the season for the opportunity to join Stewart-Haas Racing and call the shots for Stewart on the No. 14 team.

The veteran crew chief is well aware of the performance he’s following in the role after Darian Grubb helped lead Stewart to the dramatic 2011 Cup title.

“I got a text message after Tony won the championship and all it said was 'no pressure',” Addington joked explaining how he wound up taking the role.

After spending two seasons with Kurt Busch at Penske, Addington now heads to SHR in a move that had been rumored for some time.

Addington said he really didn’t think about leaving Penske with any real certainty until about midway through the Chase when word came that Stewart and Grubb would indeed be parting ways once the season ended, no matter the outcome.

“Really this thing unfolded pretty quick,” Addington said. “There was nothing really said to me in the direction of coming here until after all the stuff broke loose at Charlotte. From that weekend forward, I got more phone calls than just from Tony and it was okay, you can weigh your options on what you want to do.”

Addington says of the opportunities that became available, working with Stewart was the best for him.

“This was the best fit for me. 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.”

Although things ultimately ended on a stormy note with Busch during his Penske tenure, Addington would not trade the time he spent with the organization for anything and is grateful for the opportunity.

“That’s a great group of guys, that’s something I’ll always remember the opportunity that Roger Penske gave me,” he said. “Roger is a class act, he handled this very professionally. He understood what I wanted to do and what direction I wanted to go in.

“I appreciated everything they did, I appreciate the relationship with Kurt, I mean we had some success – we had the peaks and the valleys but we had some good runs and everyone stayed together as a team through all of it.”

Addington has the unique experience of working with both Kurt and Kyle Busch in his crew chief career at Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing. Despite both brothers having different issues with emotional outbursts over the year, Addington thinks the talented pair can still be successful if they can harness their intensity.

“Well I mean this is a tough business and the percentages are against you winning every weekend,” Addington said. “It’s something that I kind of ignored and put on the back burner. I know the passion that was there, I’m not giving him an excuse for what goes on on the radio – it’s a passion that they have and it’s something they just need to get a little better grip on and I didn’t take anything personal from it.

“I just felt like we couldn’t build off what we needed to in that situation. I think they’ll be successful going forward. I think that Kurt will be successful going forward but I’m in a good situation.”

As for coming into a new role with a team that achieved the ultimate goal of winning the championship, Addington plans to take the advice of his new boss and not put undue pressure on himself to perform.

“I said I’m not coming in here to reinvent the wheel or change this race team very much,” he said. “We’ve got some tracks that we’re gonna sit down and look at our weaknesses at. I’ve already told Tony to sit down and look at the races we need to improve on and things like that. Then we’ll start implementing stuff that I worked with in the past and what direction that we need to go in to make it better.

“The goal is to go out and win more races, you know, win a bunch of races and the championship will come. There’s some pressure but there’s also a good feeling that this team has a foundation under it.”

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