New crew chief for underachieving Busch

October, 28, 2009

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kyle Busch didn't look very intimidating standing next to Big Show and Chris Jericho as a guest host of WWE's "Monday Night Raw."

OK, he looked downright puny.

You could have stacked two of his pencil-thin bodies -- along with teammate Joey Logano, who also was a guest host -- next to Show's 7-foot, 485-pound frame and he still would have been dwarfed.

One could use the same analogy for Busch and soon-to-be-ex-crew chief Steve Addington next to three-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus.

Sure Busch and Addington have won a lot of races the past two seasons, but when it comes to being the intimidating force that Johnson and Knaus are, they're not even close.

Apparently, management at Joe Gibbs Racing felt the same way. Nothing against Addington. Twelve wins in two seasons would be cause for a contract extension for most crew chiefs. Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans would eat dirt for those numbers.

But when you're considered by many to be the most talented driver on the planet, you're measured by championships and consistency.

Addington didn't help Busch achieve that, so Dave Rogers will get a shot.

Many were surprised the move happened so quickly. They shouldn't be. You can have patience when you've got a good driver. When you've got a great one -- and 53 wins in Cup, Nationwide and Truck gives one reason to believe Busch is -- you can't waste a moment.

A crew chief who has won a title told me earlier this season that if Busch expected to win a championship he would have to get a new crew chief. He argued that Addington was solid, but not great enough to consistently turn the bad days into good days.

Looking at Busch's numbers, I can't argue. Aside from the four wins this season, he has 12 finishes of 20th or worse. They had eight a year ago when Busch won eight races and led the points going into the Chase.

Johnson has 13 in the past two seasons combined.

Consistency. That's why Addington is out and Rogers is in. That's why team president J.D. Gibbs told me on Sunday at Martinsville that Addington wouldn't be judged on these final four races, that the organization had to look at the overall picture.

That's why he didn't give Addington a vote of confidence after Busch finished fourth on Sunday.

He knew a change needed to be made, just as his dad knew when to change quarterbacks or receivers with the Washington Redskins.

He knows Busch has the talent to stand as tall in the Cup garage as Big Show does in the ring.

He knows Busch could be the Show, not just a prop for one.

David Newton | email

ESPN Staff Writer



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