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Stewart sticking to plan for Addington

As Tony Stewart piled up wins in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup and closed in on his third series championship, the consensus was that any problems between Stewart and then-crew chief Darian Grubb would be lost in the victory celebrations.

Yet each time Stewart won, he fired off a text message to another crew chief: "You're still my guy."

It was welcome news for Steve Addington, who had been approached months earlier by Stewart to join his Stewart-Haas Racing organization in 2012.

However, Addington had his doubts as Stewart continued to win with Grubb at the helm.

"You never know what's going to happen," said Addington, who served as Kurt Busch's crew chief last season at Penske Racing. "After you talk to somebody and they start winning races and stuff, you don't know what's going to happen.

"This is a funny business."

Just as a final reminder, long after Addington had returned to North Carolina following the season finale at Homestead, Fla., and had gone to sleep, Addington received another text message from Stewart: "No pressure, bud."

"I was laying in the bed trying to figure out they just won a championship, what's going to happen now?" Addington said.

"I'm thinking they just won a championship, are they going to change their mind?"

Stewart, however, had long ago decided a change was needed. Nothing that happened on the track or off in the season's final months would alter that.

You can't blame Addington for doubts. After all, Stewart won five of the 10 Chase races, including a dramatic victory in the season finale in which he had to twice come from the back of the field to beat Carl Edwards.

"When you have been a part of this as long as I have, things can get happen and things can get said that make people question," Stewart said Monday during the first day of the Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"I felt like I needed to send him a little reminder that, 'Hey don't worry. This isn't changing anything.' "

It didn't.

While fans and some NASCAR media were taken aback by Stewart's decision to change crew chiefs after winning the championship, Stewart kept his word and stuck with the original plan.

The road forward has been so far free of problems.

With a new crew chief, new competition director for SHR (Greg Zipadelli) and the addition of a third team with driver Danica Patrick, Stewart remained around his shop rather than taking a vacation after winning the title.

"I felt like there was a lot going on, a lot of changes, and I needed to be around. I didn't want anyone to think I was abandoning them," he said.

Even with all the changes, Stewart will likely remain a favorite to win another Cup title in 2012.

"We're just a bunch of low-key, down-to-earth racers. That's the attitude I have," Stewart said. "We know there is going to be a period of learning together. That 10-day period of Daytona is not enough to get it done."

Addington said he wouldn't have joined Stewart if he didn't believe they could win a title together.

"I know a lot of people are going to look at it like, 'You're the only thing that's changed on that race team' (if Stewart doesn't win). That's true," Addington said.

"I feel good about it. I'm confident enough in my position and experience in races to give him what he needs in a race car."

Like Stewart said: No pressure.

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