NSCS No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Impala SS crew chief Steve Addington and driver Tony Stewart from their first win together in the Feb. 23 Gatorade Duel at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. (Photo credit: CIA Stock Photography)KANNAPOLIS, N.C., (March 15, 2012) – Call it the “Addington Advantage”.
Since 2008 in a span of 16 races – eight at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and eight at Dover (Del.) International Speedway – crew chief Steve Addington has notched four wins, six top-threes, seven top-fives and nine top-10s with two different drivers (Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch), who have combined to lead 1,398 laps (1,026 laps led for Kyle Busch, 372 laps led for Kurt Busch). Only three finishes were outside the top-20.
In those same races, Tony Stewart recorded zero wins, two second-place finishes and five top-10 results with 275 laps led. Seven other finishes were outside the top-20.
As the statistics show, Bristol and Dover have proven to be a concrete conundrum for Stewart, as he has struggled mightily in comparison at the only two concrete tracks on the Sprint Cup circuit.
Addington, meanwhile, has excelled. His knowledge of Bristol’s .533-mile bullring and Dover’s 1-mile oval helped deliver three wins to Kyle Busch (June 2008 at Dover, March 2009 at Bristol and August 2009 at Bristol) and one win to older brother Kurt Busch (September 2011 at Dover).
In 2012, the “Addington Advantage” is Stewart’s, as the veteran crew chief joined Stewart-Haas Racing and the driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Impala at the end of the 2011 season.
The pairing has already proven successful. The duo won the non-points Gatorade Duel in February at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and then scored their first point-paying victory in the third race of the Sprint Cup season last Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Now they head to Bristol, site of Sunday’s Food City 500. Addington plans to pick up where he left off with the Busch Brothers, while Stewart seeks a pick-me-up from Addington, a winner of 17 Sprint Cup races as a crew chief (12 with Kyle Busch, four with Kurt Busch and one with Stewart).
With the “Addington Advantage” now in his corner, expect the Stewart of old, who has led a total of 1,354 laps in 26 career Sprint Cup starts at Bristol – but only two laps led in his last six races in Thunder Valley – to come roaring back.
TONY STEWART, Driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You’ve enjoyed success at Bristol in the past, but of late it’s proven to be a challenging venue. Why?
“Whatever we’ve had in the past, we’re not bringing back. I told Steve (Addington) at our competition meeting on Tuesday, I don’t care what package you put in the car, just make sure it isn’t what we ran the last two races there.
“It’s a track where we’ve struggled, but a track that I enjoy and like a lot. We’ve led a lot of laps there. We just don’t have the wins to show for it.
“We’ve run terrible there the last two or three races, so we’re looking forward to a new package, and coming off the win at Vegas is definitely the momentum we need to get started off on the right foot on Friday. I’m definitely looking forward to getting there on Friday.”
It’s still early in the season, but how has your relationship with Addington developed?
“Steve and I spent a lot of time in Daytona together, and we got to spend some time together between Phoenix and Las Vegas. A lot of the crew guys stayed out for that West Coast swing, too. We all got to spend time together as a team. When you have a new team leader like that, it’s important for myself and for all the guys to try and spend as much time with each other as we can, so that all of us to get to know him a little better and for him to get to know his guys. It was fun to watch while we were in Vegas. We’ve all been together a short amount of time, but it looks we’ve been together a lot longer than we really have.”
Can you summarize your history at Bristol?
“Bristol is one of those places where you’ve got to have everything kind of go your way. If you have one hiccup, it’s hard to recover from it. We’ve only won one race there and we’ve kind of been all over the board. It’s been feast or famine for us. It’s like if you have one problem in the first half of the race, it’s hard to recover from it. It makes for a very long day. We’ve had more long days than good d
“It’s a place where it’s hard to have a good day. There are so many variables that can go wrong at Bristol versus other tracks. If you have that one bad incident that gets you in the back, it’s hard to recover from that. There are guys who have done it and do a good job at it, but you have to have a great racecar to be able to recover from something bad, especially if you get laps down. It’s like going from the bottom of the mountain and climbing and climbing and not getting anywhere. You fight and fight and fight and at the end of the day you’re right where you were when you had your problem.”
Has overcoming adversity at Bristol been made easier by the repaving job the track underwent in 2007?
“I definitely like the track the way it is now. I know there has been a lot of debate on whether it is better or whether it was better the old way. I like it because we at least get to use the whole racetrack now, and we don’t have to just sit there and drive through each other to pass. You actually get to race guys now. I enjoy that side of it. I think it’s a lot more fun. Sometimes because it’s more fun doesn’t mean you’re successful at it. That’s what makes it challenging.”
Bristol is the first short track race of the season. What are your expectations?
“I think the one thing Bristol does is reset all of the grudges from the short tracks. I think guys forget about someone who may have given them fits last year at Bristol or Martinsville. I think everyone starts at square one. It’s nice to start with our first short track at Bristol. It’s something we all look forward to because it’s a one-of-a-kind racetrack. There are high banks like Salem and Winchester in Indiana, but they are nothing like Bristol. Everybody gets excited just because it’s Bristol. It’s hard to win there. One of my favorite trophies is my Bristol trophy from the win in 2000. I keep asking myself why I only have one of them. It’s just a hard race to win. When guys win there, they don’t just stand on the car and go, ‘Whoo.” They usually scream when they get out of the car because it’s such a hard place to win.”
I THINK WE MAY BE ON TO SOMETHING!!!!!!!!!!!! ANYTHING HAS TO BE BETTER THAN THE LAST RACE AT BRISTOL. TONY COULDN'T EVEN RACE THE START AND PARKS. HE HAS NOWHERE TO GO BUT UP AND I THINK STEVE IS THE ANSWER TO THIS PROBLEM!! GO TONY!!!