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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gibbs may regret letting Addington leave

I have to give credit to Steve Addington. He’s willing to take on the tough assignments.

After being the crew chief for arguably the most obnoxious, tirade-prone driver on the track, Kyle Busch, Addington is used to listening to an angry driver and not taking it personal. Despite guiding Kyle to 12 wins over two years, Addington was dropped from his position as Kyle Busch’s pit boss after Busch missed the Chase in 2009.

That may end up being a mistake for Gibbs, as Addington has found his way over to the Penske organization, where he will be crew chief for yet another ornery Busch – older brother Kurt. Kurt is also very prickly, but that should be no concern for Addington … he’s worked with the other one and knows how to deal with the Busch type.

If Kurt has an even better year in 2010 than his solid fourth-place run in 2009, and Kyle struggles again with new crew chief Dave Rogers, Gibbs may be left scratching his head. I understand that Kyle missed the Chase, but 12 wins in two years doesn’t usually lead to a breakup in this sport … for good reason. Those kind of results mean that something is working,

Penske said last week that "By adding Steve to the winning Miller Lite team and working closely with Kurt, we believe we have the combination in place to compete for a championship as we head into the 2010 season."

Are Joe Gibbs and Kyle Busch that confident about their chances?

Least surprising stat of 2009
David Stremme had the most crashes. No shock there. I could’ve told you that without doing all the math.

When will Danica start Nationwide ride?
The discussion is under way about where Danica will make her Nationwide debut, and Daytona is still being considered as an option. I think I’m not in the minority when I say that would be a terrible idea. With zero experience in NASCAR, racing her first Nationwide race at Daytona could be disastrous … and scary for the other drivers.

It’s already going to be crazy enough with her doing the ARCA race there, as that series is prone to crashes already even without the presence of a true stock car rookie like Danica. We don’t need to make the situation any more dangerous by putting her in the Nationwide race too. Get some experience at the other tracks and don’t debut at a plate race. Trust me, it’s the best thing for everyone.

And while we’re talking about Danica, there was an amazing total of 10 women – Danica Patrick, Leilani Munter, Alli Owens, Milka Duno, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Michelle Thoriault, Jill George, Alison MacLoud and Amber and Angela Cope -- testing ARCA cars at Daytona. Will any of them make it to Cup? That’s a tough road that few actually take, but Danica obviously has the best shot, with all her attached sponsorship. But if none of them can run well in ARCA or Trucks or Nationwide, there is no chance they’ll get a shot at the highest level (except Danica maybe, just because she’s Danica)

Big news for elder Keselowski
After a 2009 that saw Brian Keselowski step out of the driver’s seat of his K Automotive racecar and hand the keys over to other drivers while he stayed behind the scenes, it appears big plans are in order for the Michigan-based team in the Nationwide Series.

It was announced this week that Brian, the older brother of Cup driver Brad Keselowski, will return to driving the car in 2010 for the K Automotive team, which will move its shop from Michigan down to Statesville, North Carolina. His crew chief will be Dave Fuge. If the team can secure sponsorship and run all year as they plan, it looks like Brian and his team might be on the verge of moving from survival mode to being a team to watch. Part of the reason for the move is the hope of getting more employees with the experience needed to compete at a higher level, which is an important step on the road to improvement. There is talk of a getting a veteran Cup driver to run some Cup races for K Automotive, which would be a good sign.

There is definitely room in the Nationwide series for some smaller teams to step up and compete, and I hope K Automotive will be one of the nice surprises in the 2010 season.

Bad news for CJM Racing
After a solid 2009 that saw them finish well many weeks, with a variety of drivers, it appears the #11 CJM Racing car won’t compete anymore in Nationwide.
Their 2009 driers included Trevor Bayne, Kelly Bires, Mike Bliss, Denny Hamlin, Scott Lagasse, Jr., Justin Lofton, Andrew Ranger and Brian Scott.

The team had some solid finishes amid the Cup visitors each week, and it’s a shame to see it go. Yet another victim of the economy, it seems.

TV alert
Kyle Petty is also quick to tell you his opinion, and he’ll share it tonight about a variety of topics on an interesting panel show, “With All Due Respect,” at 10 p.m. on CNN Headline News. Petty will appear along with fellow athletes Charles Barkley and Dennis Eckersley. This may be slow or boring at times, as most panel shows are, but I bet that overall it will be a pretty lively and interesting discussion. Kyle has made some pretty bold remarks lately, including a pretty harsh diss on Danica Patrick, so don’t be surprised if he says exactly what is on his mind regarding the topics of that show.


Anonymous J.J. said...

I think that if Busch and Addington don't win almost right out of the gate, that Kurt will have a meltdown that'll make any of Kyle's look miniscule by comparison.

Busch seems to suffer from RWS (Rusty Wallace Syndrome), that as the "Number One" everyone in the Penske organization is there to support him. If Busch doesn't improve, say by doubling his win total and by making and contending for the Chase, then what? And if he doesn't win or make the Chase, I think Kurt starts to make a series look at his options for a change in teams.

I think it would've been a far better choice to match Keselowski (or even Hornish to help him improve) and Addington to make the #12 a contender for wins (which they haven't been since well before Newman left).

Overall though I think Penske as whole will improve.

December 20, 2009 at 2:46 PM 
Blogger Gene Haddock said...

I have to agree with everything that JJ said in the previous comment. Kurt will walk all over Addington, and make Kyle's outburst seem minor.

Two quick questions...How many races did Addington win for Kyle? How many races did Kyle win in spite of Addington?

December 25, 2009 at 12:45 PM 

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