Dale Earnhardt Jr. gave his legions of loyal fans plenty to cheer about Sunday as the #88 Amp Energy/National Guard Chevrolet led 90 laps before settling for a seventh-place finish in the Tums Fast Relief 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Martinsville (VA) Speedway. Earnhardt’s crew chief, Lance McGrew, received Federal-Mogul Corporation’s MOOG “Problem Solver of the Race” Award in recognition of the #88 car’s impressive rebound from disappointing qualifying and practice sessions.
The MOOG Problem Solver award is presented to the crew chief whose car posts the largest increase in average lap speed during the second half of each Sprint Cup event while finishing on the lead lap. Earnhardt increased his average speed by a race-best 0.134-second on Martinsville’s half-mile oval.
“Lance and the Hendricks Motorsports crew had the #88 car’s MOOG-equipped chassis running the best we’ve seen all year, and they combined that with an excellent pit strategy,” said Federal-Mogul Motorsports Director Tim Nelson.
Earnhardt started the day in 28th position but quickly advanced into the top 15 with the help of precise steering response in the corners. The #88 car grabbed the lead on lap 285 and held on for 90 laps more than doubling the number of laps led by Earnhardt all year before cooling track temperatures changed the dynamics of the race. Still, Earnhardt ran solidly in the top 10 over the final 130 laps, giving the #88 team much-needed momentum heading into next week’s race at Talladega.
With just four races remaining in the 2010 Sprint Cup season, Gil Martin, crew chief for Kevin Harvick and the #29 Chevrolet, leads the battle for season-ending MOOG “Problem Solver of the Year” honors with four weekly MOOG Award wins. Darian Grubb (Tony Stewart, #14 Chevrolet) and Shane Wilson (Clint Bowyer, #33 Chevrolet) are tied for second with two wins apiece.
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