Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Updated: November 23, 11:55 AM ET
Steve Addington looking for next gig
By David Newton
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Sprint Cup Series version of musical chairs for crew chiefs is in full swing as Penske Racing president Tim Cindric confirmed that Steve Addington will not return as the crew chief for Kurt Busch.
"We appreciate the successes we experienced together and wish him the best in his future endeavors," Cindric said Tuesday.
Addington is believed to be headed to Stewart-Haas Racing to become the crew chief for three-time champion Tony Stewart, multiple sources said. Stewart informed Darian Grubb during the Chase that Grubb would not be returning in 2012.
"We're looking at all of our options right now," Stewart said during Tuesday's NASCAR conference call. "After we get through with all the media obligations today, I'll go back to the shop and we'll get together and try to come up with a decision. We already know some options that are available. We'll sit down and see what we think is the best option and decision for the company."
Reports of Addington leaving Penske surfaced midway through the Chase. Sources confirmed to ESPN.com before the finale at Homestead that he was not returning.
Addington has been subjected this season to many of Busch's verbal assaults, including an infamous in-race meltdown in May over Busch's team radio.
Meanwhile, video shot by a fan emerged Tuesday on YouTube of Busch being verbally abusive to ESPN reporter Dr. Jerry Punch during the race at Homestead.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Busch apologized for his behavior.
"Unfortunately, our result in the season-ending race at Homestead on Sunday was not what we had hoped for as a team. In my frustration with the loss of my transmission early in the race, I let my emotions get the better of me," Busch said. "I regret having done this and apologize to the sponsors of Penske Racing, to NASCAR, its fans, to the media and in particular, Dr. Jerry Punch."
NASCAR called Busch's language in the video "disappointing," but noted his emotional state after being forced out of the race.
"Clearly, Kurt was frustrated with what happened with his car that early in the race, however his choice of language at the time was disappointing," spokesman Kerry Tharp said.
Penske Racing also extended an apology to Punch, the media, sponsors and fans.
Meanwhile, Grubb said late Sunday night that he probably would take at least two weeks to determine where his future lies. He confirmed he has had offers throughout the Cup garage, including one to return in some capacity to Hendrick Motorsports, where he was prior to coming to Stewart-Haas in 2009.
Also, sources said Brian Pattie is headed to Michael Waltrip Racing to become the crew chief for Clint Bowyer. Pattie, who was Juan Pablo Montoya's crew chief at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing midway through last season.
RFR is planning to shut down Ragan's unsponsored team and go from four to three cars.
Jim Pohlman will not return as the crew chief for Montoya. His replacement will be Chris Heroy, the lead engineer on the No. 5 car at Hendrick Motorsports the last seven years.
Richard Childress Racing announced multiple changes Tuesday. Shane Wilson will move from crew chief of the No. 33 team that was Bowyer's to the No. 29 team of Kevin Harvick.
Gil Martin, who was Harvick's crew chief, will move into the role of director of competition.
This is not the first time Wilson and Harvick have worked together. They joined forces in 2006 to earn 10 wins, 24 top-five and 31 top-10 finishes on the way to that season's NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. The team's 824-point margin of victory is a series record.
"Shane is a good friend of mine and we had a lot of success together in the NASCAR Nationwide Series," Harvick said in a statement issued through RCR. "He has a lot of experience now in the Sprint Cup Series and I look forward to working with him again."
Sources also said Drew Blickensderfer is leaving RFR to take over as the crew chief for the No. 31 car of Jeff Burton. Blickensderfer was the crew chief for David Ragan but not expected to be a part of major layoffs at RFR.
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.