Tony Stewart gets new crew chief

Updated: November 29, 2011, 11:27 AM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Steve Addington is the new crew chief for 2011 Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing announced Monday.

[+] EnlargeBusch/Addington
Jason Smith/Getty ImagesSteve Addington, left, was Kurt Busch's crew chief the last two seasons.

"My comfort level with him is already strong," Stewart said in a statement. "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."

Darian Grubb, who was Stewart's crew chief during the title run, said after the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway that he was told midway through the Chase he would not return in 2012.

Addington informed Penske Racing last Monday that he would not return as Kurt Busch's crew chief.

Stewart will be the third driver Addington has worked with in the past four seasons. He was with Kyle Busch from 2005 through 2009 and with Kurt Busch the last two seasons.

"(Stewart) 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 said in the statement.

Addington led Kurt Busch to four wins. Their final race ended in high drama with Busch ultimately being fined $50,000 by NASCAR for an obscene gesture made from inside his car and for being verbally abusive toward ESPN reporter Dr. Jerry Punch.

In three seasons with Stewart, Grubb led the three-time champion to 11 wins, including five during this year's 10-race Chase. He told ESPN.com after the final race that he has been contacted by every organization in the Cup garage and likely would make a decision on his future in two weeks.

"Darian was a very important part of the success we've had at Stewart-Haas Racing," Stewart said in the statement. "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."

Hendrick Motorsports has offered Grubb an opportunity to return there in some capacity. Grubb was the interim crew chief for Jimmie Johnson when he won the 2006 Daytona 500 while Chad Knaus was serving a suspension.

"I have had discussions with Darian," Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said on Monday. "When he left, we told him we'd always have a place for him if he wants to come back. Darian is a pretty smart guy. I know he's entertaining a lot of offers.

"We don't have a crew chief role (for him). We have an engineering role we think Darian would be real good in. We'd love to have him back in the organization. I quite honestly don't know where he's going to end up."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

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ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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