Steve Addington has been confirmed as the new crew chief for NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart's #14 car for 2012, following the departure of Darian Grubb, who served as Stewart's crew chief since the inception of Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009.

The move had been widely expected after Penske Racing announced immediately after the season finale at Homestead-Miami that Addington was leaving the team where he had been working as Kurt Busch's crew chief since 2010. Addington has also worked with Bobby Labonte (2005), JJ Yeley (2006-2007) and Kyle Busch (2008-2009) in Sprint Cup competition, following 15 seasons as a crew chief in the Nationwide Series.

"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."

"I know Steve well and I know how he goes about setting up a racecar," said Stewart. "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.

"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."

Stewart appeared to confirm that his former crew chief Darian Grubb would now be leaving SHR. "Darian was a very important part of the success we've had at Stewart-Haas Racing," he 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."

Although Grubb is believed to have a standing invitation to return to Hendrick Motorsport should he wish to do so, if he did then it would not be in a crew chief capacity according to team owner Rick Hendrick.

"I hope Darian ends up back with us," said Hendrick, adding that he had the perfect engineering role for Grubb. "I think he would help our organization. [But] if he wants to be a crew chief, then we don't have that spot."

Hendrick talks about plane crash

Rick Hendrick described this week how the injuries he sustained in a plane crash in October were the result of the failure of the seat in which he was sitting.

"My belt was on, and something came loose in the seat itself," said Hendrick in a teleconference. "I hit the bulkhead and my wife. My chest and head went into the seat in front of me and that's where I got my ribs [broke] and I had a concussion."

Hendrick broke four ribs and his clavicle in the accident, in which brake failure on the Gulfstream G150 saw the plane run off the end of the runway at Key West International Airport. His wife had less serious injuries, and the pilots were unharmed in the rough landing.

"You don't remember everything exactly how it happened ... Just for a second or two, that's about all you've got [in which] you sense something was wrong," Hendrick added. "But then it happened so quick, it goes so fast that you don't have time to hardly react.

"Trying to sleep and move and getting therapy takes most of the day," he continued. "My wife is doing good. She busted her leg up, but I'm not a spring chicken anymore. I don't bounce back quite as quick."

Kurt Busch fined for outburst

Kurt Busch has been handed a $50,000 fine following an outburst aimed at ESPN pit lane reporter Dr Jerry Punch, after the #22 retired early from the season finale at Homestead-Miami.

Busch's frustrated outburst was captured on camera and put on YouTube. Minutes before, in-car cameras had also caught Busch making an obscene gesture as he returned to the garage area - which was also covered by the fine.

"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," said Busch in a statement of apology. Penske Racing had previously also issued an apology for the incident, and Busch's sponsors Shell has also expressed their disappointment and said that "His actions are in no way consistent with the way we want our brands represented."

Harvick crew chief change confirmed

As anticipated last week, Gil Martin has been replaced as Kevin Harvick's crew chief by Shane Wilson for 2012.

"Kevin came to me after the Phoenix race a couple weeks ago and asked for a change in the leadership of his team for the 2012 season," team owner Richard Childress said. "The expectations at RCR are to win championships so the decision was made."

Wilson had previously been crew chief for the #33 driven by Clint Bowyer, who is now moving to Michael Waltrip Racing. Martin, a crew chief for the team since 2000, will take the position as director of team operations.

Martin gets #55 for 2012

Mark Martin's 2012 car number will be the #55, the Michael Waltrip Racing team announced at the end of last week.

Martin is moving to MWR and replacing David Reutimann, who had been the driver of the #00. But that number has a long association with the Reutimann family, and Waltrip and Martin have decided to make a clean break with the past and instead return to using #55 for Martin's two-year tenure at the team.

"This means a lot to me," Waltrip said. "I know how far MWR has come since we started with the No. 55 NAPA Toyota and how much we've grown heading into 2012. To get back into the No. 55 Toyota in 2012 and share driving duties with a first-ballot hall of famer in Mark Martin is certainly an honor."

The use of the number 55 marks the founding of primary sponsor, retailer Aaron's Inc., in 1955.


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