|10/30/09 10:24PM||Gibbs Racing, Kyle Busch, NASCAR, Steve Addington|
Addington confused by firing
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Kyle Busch celebrated 12 wins with crew chief Steve Addington, including a comeback victory last year at Talladega Superspeedway.
It seemed like a lifetime ago, though, on Friday as Addington prepared for his final weekend with Busch. He'll call Sunday's race at Talladega and then hand the job over to Dave Rogers in a firing that admittedly left Addington "pretty confused."
"Do I agree with it? No," Addington said. "But it is what it is, and I felt like we had a good run."
Busch said the decision was made by team owner Joe Gibbs and president J.D. Gibbs, and it was based on lack of consistency this season.
"It seems like we're either feast or famine -- we're either going to win the race or finish 30th," Busch said. "Some of that's my fault, some of that's just not having the right stuff for me, and Joe and J.D. felt like we needed to try something new to get something of a more consistent basis and championship-caliber."
Rival crew chiefs seemed puzzled by Addington's ouster.
"I think it's tough with so many positive accomplishments to lose your job," said Alan Gustafson, who spent three seasons as Busch's crew chief at Hendrick Motorsports. "It shows the pressure a crew chief is under in this sport and how tough it is. Only time will tell if that's the right move, but I don't think it's fair for Steve. My opinion is he's done a good job.
"Kyle is so competitive and expects to win every week, which is good. That's what he's supposed to do. I think the problem is if it doesn't happen ... that's where you get into a situation they are in. They haven't slipped -- they still run well -- but they didn't make the Chase. That's the elephant in the room. That's the problem, and I don't know that it's fair to throw that on Steve, and that's what's happened."
Gustafson and Addington used totally different styles to manage Busch. Gustafson argued with Busch -- a lot -- in an effort to shape the youngster into the kind of driver he thought Busch could be.
Addington was far more laid-back, and at times this season seemed powerless to stop Busch from having one of his trademark mid-race meltdowns when his car was not up to his liking.
The personality differences may have ultimately been their undoing.
"If a relationship goes stale, it's stale. You are not going to rekindle it," said Denny Hamlin, Busch's teammate. "You've got someone who is rambunctious and someone who is reserved, and it's tough to keep that going outside the honeymoon period."
• JGR appoints Rogers as new crew chief for Busch