Gil Martin, crew chief for Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Designate a Driver Chevrolet SS, moved into a tie for second place in the battle for Federal-Mogul’s $100,000 MOOG Steering and Suspension “Problem Solver of the Year” Award after picking up weekly Problem Solver honors in Sunday’s Chase-opening Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. It was Martin’s third weekly MOOG award, putting him just one win behind leader Matt Borland, crew chief for Ryan Newman (No. 39 Chevrolet).
The MOOG Problem Solver awards recognize the pit professionals whose behind-the-scenes decisions help advance their teams’ competitive position throughout the NASCAR Sprint Cup season. The weekly Problem Solver award is presented to the crew chief whose car posts the greatest increase in average lap time during the second half of each race while finishing on the lead lap. At the end of the year, Federal-Mogul presents the prestigious MOOG Problem Solver of the Year Award to the crew chief with the best overall performance throughout the 36-race season. Harvick and Martin’s MOOG-equipped Chevrolet improved by a race-best 0.416 seconds at Chicagoland, enabling Harvick to finish third in an event that was red-flagged for more than five hours due to rain.
“Kevin was fighting tight handling early in the race, but Gil did a great job in diagnosing the issue and adjusting their MOOG-equipped chassis on the first stop,” said Federal-Mogul Motorsports Director Tim Nelson. “The 29 continued to get better throughout the race, which shows that Gil had the right read on how the track was going to change throughout the afternoon and even after the long delay. That’s a skill that only comes through experience and an ability to translate your driver’s input into ultra-fast, precise chassis adjustments.”
Now fourth in Chase points with nine races remaining, Harvick advanced into the top 15 on the track after Martin’s initial adjustments and was running 14th when the race was red flagged nearly halfway through the scheduled 267 laps. The 29 quickly advanced into the top 10 after the long delay and was running among the leaders the rest of the night.
Martin, who won the 2010 MOOG Problem Solver of the Year Award, is now tied with Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford) crew chief Todd Gordon for second place, followed by crew chiefs Steve Letarte (Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Chevrolet), Kevin Manion (Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chevrolet) and Paul Wolfe (Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford), who are deadlocked in third with two wins each.
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