By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
Going into the 2010 season, neither of the two Busch brothers had ever won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, well throw that stat away… at least for Kurt Busch that is.
Two weeks ago Kurt Busch stunned everyone, as he roared to life in the final segment of the Sprint All-Star Race and he captured the $1,000,000 bonus for winning it all. Well Kurt didn’t stop there. This past Sunday he came into the Coca-Cola 600 with some confidence, and he took the checkers in the longest race of the season.
Following his second victory at Charlotte in the past two weeks Kurt Busch gave thanks to his entire team.
“Yeah, this has been a dream come true, to be able to wrap up this special weekend, to put a bow on it with this Coca-Cola 600 win. It’s a prestigious race, a tough race, and most of all it’s a team race. This was a fantastic job by my guys that battled all day long to keep me up front. I don’t know what our worst running position was, but I can’t say it was worse than fifth or sixth maybe. Great pit stops, great calls by Steve Addington, Dave Winston, my guys.” Busch said.
However the key to the victories in my mind is his crew chief Steve Addington. Addington of course was Kyle Busch’s crew chief from 2008 to 2009. However after missing the chase last season Kyle made the executive decision to send Addington packing, despite the fact that they combined to win 12 races in two seasons. That may have been the worst decision of Kyle Busch’s career.
So why is Steve Addington the overwhelming reason for Kurt Busch’s victories at Charlotte you may ask? It’s simple, Kurt Busch is a great driver, and he won the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, but there is no denying he has always struggled at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
In his 19 previous starts at the 1.5 mile speedway (without Addington) Kurt Busch had only tallied four, yeah that’s right just four top-ten finishes. Then all of a sudden in the last two weeks Kurt is driving backwards more than Robby Gordon. (Kurt’s signature victory lap is a reverse victory lap).
Meanwhile Kyle Busch, who has come ever-so-close, has still yet to reach victory lane in the Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Kyle can attribute letting Steve Addington go to any of the many reasons he wants, but in the end of his career if his brother goes on to win a championship under the leadership of Addington and Kyle goes without a championship, he may just regret that decision for the rest of his career.
I know what you are saying… Kyle, just like Kurt has two victories in 2010, and in fact Kyle is sitting higher in the point standings.
That’s very valid, but let’s not forget that the races Kyle has won in 2010, are races he also won in 2009.
Also don’t forget Kyle was sitting quite high in the standings this time last year, yet he still faded down the stretch through bad luck and just bad decisions on the race track. The end result was a 13th-place finish in the final point standings.
Throw in the fact that his team is using the same notebook that Steve Addington left behind, and it’s quite obvious to understand why they’re off to a good start to the season. The real test for me will be the races later in the season that Busch struggled through in 2009.
Good crew chiefs, and chemistry are extremely hard to find in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage.
However it seems wherever Steve Addington goes he brings the chemistry with him. Kyle Busch is sporadic on the race track, and can often make crazy decisions in the heat of the moment. In my honest opinion he jumped the gun on changing crew chiefs. That being said Kyle Busch still is an amazingly talented driver, and hopefully for him Dave Rogers can prove him right in the end.