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Addington evaluating future options

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Steve Addington was "surprised" that Joe Gibbs Racing is replacing him as Kyle Busch's crew chief after Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway and plans to explore all options inside and outside of Joe Gibbs Racing.

Busch said the decision was made by team owner Joe Gibbs and his son, team president J.D. Gibbs.

"I love Steve,'' Busch said on Friday. "Steve was a great asset to the team. He's done a great job the past two seasons. Unfortunately, we haven't quite had the success we would have liked this year and we've struggled a lot. It seems like it's either feast of famine. We're either going to win the race or finish 30th.

"Some of that is my fault, but some of that is not having the right stuff in the cars for me. Joe and J.D. felt we needed to try something new to see if we couldn't get a more consistent basis and something that was championship caliber."

JGR announced on Tuesday that Dave Rogers, who has worked in JGR's Nationwide Series program, will take over as crew chief of the No. 18 beginning next weekend at Texas.

Is it possible that Addington will leave for another Sprint Cup Series team -- possibly the No. 2 Penske Racing car of Kyle Busch's brother, Kurt Busch?

"That would be ironic," said Addington, who has won 12 races with Kyle since they were paired at the start of last season. "Yes, I'm going to look at everything."

Kurt Busch's team is losing its crew chief, Pat Tryson, to Michael Waltrip Racing after this season.

Tryson said it didn't make any sense for Addington to be replaced with as many races as the No. 18 team has won. He said Penske Racing would be "stupid" not to consider Addington.

"I don't know of anybody here better than him," Tryson said.

Said Kurt Busch, "Those are the types of guys you'd love to talk to and see what's up."

Addington said he's had a lot of interesting phone calls the past few days.

"I didn't ask to be put in this position," he said. "I'm going to do what's best for Steve Addington."

Addington said he was not mad about the decision, but extremely disappointed because he believed the No. 18 team was headed in the right direction after missing the Chase by just eight points.

Busch has finished eighth and fourth in the past two races. His 12 wins during the past two years rank second in the garage to three-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson, who has 13.

Addington said there are a lot of crew chiefs who would love to have his team's record, and many have reached out to show support since the news of his situation broke.

"I built this team with these guys and I think they proved themselves," Addington said. "It's disappointing for them. ... We've had a good record the past two years."

J.D. Gibbs said he was looking at the overall performance of the team before the change was announced. After winning three of the first 10 races, Busch had nine finishes of 20th or worse.

"I don't think it was Steve that just didn't give me what I needed,'' Busch said. "I don't think it was the engineers. For some reason it just didn't click. Obviously, this is a performance-based business. We've got to be the best we can out there."

Addington said he hoped performance was not the issue. "But probably so for the standards set for the 18," he added, referring to the belief that Busch should be competing for a championship.

Busch's teammate, Denny Hamlin, indicated communication between Addington and his driver had gone bad.

"I think regardless of whatever you do in the past, you've won a certain amount of races or whatever, if a relationship just goes stale, it's stale and you're not going to rekindle it," he said. "I think that's sort of what happened and you've got someone who's rambunctious and someone that's reserved - - it's tough to keep that going outside of the 'honeymoon period."

Busch said he never lost faith in Addington.

"When you're not beating the 48 [Johnson] something has to change," he said of the point leader. "The rest of these people are staying the same and yet they're not beating the 48."

Addington said he wasn't sure what role the driver played in the change.

"I don't know," he said. "Something happened there. I don't know what the whole story was. ... Lots of things came into factor. It's best for me to let it be.
"Things happen. Somebody has got to be the person responsible for that and that was me."

Addington said one of his options at JGR could be to return to the Nationwide Series. He said there's also the possibility he could be a candidate for another Cup job if the organization expands to four teams in 2011.

Meanwhile, he plans to help Rogers make the transition and attend the next few races more as an observer before making a decision on his future.

"I love Joe Gibbs Racing," Addington said. "This is one of those places you want to work for the rest of my life. I also have to look at my future and what I want to accomplish."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.