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Steve Addington quits as Kurt Busch's crew chief

By Jenna Fryer

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 22 2011 3:48 p.m. MST

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kurt Busch has lost his second crew chief in three seasons.

Penske Racing confirmed Tuesday that crew chief Steve Addington has left the organization. He joined Penske before the 2010 season after spending two seasons working with Busch's younger brother, Kyle.

Addington guided the 2004 NASCAR champion to four victories and spots in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship the last two years.

"Steve Addington is no longer with our organization," Penske team President Tim Cindric said in a statement. "We appreciate the successes we experienced together and wish him the best in his future endeavors."

Although the split had been rumored for months, Addington had repeatedly declined to discuss his future with Busch or address speculation he planned to go to work for three-time champion Tony Stewart in 2012. Stewart crew chief Darian Grubb confirmed Sunday night after their championship-clinching victory that he had been told he wouldn't be back with the team next season.

It's not clear if that will change since Stewart won the title, but Stewart-Haas Racing has several competition openings that Addington could fill.

Addington has been on the receiving end this season of many of Busch's verbal assaults, including an infamous in-race meltdown in May over team radio. News that Addington had officially left the team came the same day a video shot by a fan emerged on YouTube of Busch verbally abusing an ESPN reporter during Sunday's season finale at Homestead.

NASCAR called Busch's language in the video "disappointing," but noted the driver was frustrated because an early transmission issue had knocked him out of the race.

"Clearly, Kurt was frustrated with what happened with his car that early in the race, however his choice of language at the time was disappointing," spokesman Kerry Tharp said.

Busch also was caught during the live broadcast making an obscene gesture inside his car as he drove his wounded Dodge into the garage.

Busch apologized in a statement, and blamed his behavior on his poor race.

"Unfortunately, our result in the season-ending race at Homestead on Sunday was not what we had hoped for as a team," he said. "In my frustration with the loss of my transmission early in the race, I let my emotions get the better of me. I regret having done this and apologize to the sponsors of Penske Racing, to NASCAR, its fans, to the media and in particular, Dr. Jerry Punch."

Penske Racing apologized in its own statement and said the incident was being reviewed internally.

"Penske Racing extends its apologies to Dr. Jerry Punch, our media partners and our sponsors and fans for Kurt Busch's inappropriate actions in Homestead on Sunday," the statement said. "These actions do not represent Penske Racing and are inconsistent with the company's standards for behavior, respect for others and professionalism."

ESPN said the network and Punch would have no comment.

Busch lost crew chief Pat Tryson after the 2009 season, when Tryson left Penske to work for Michael Waltrip Racing. He made his decision to leave right before the Chase began.

Busch won two races this year and finished 11th in the final Sprint Cup Series standings.

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