Paul Menard and the MOOG Steering and Suspension-equipped No. 27 FVP/Menards Chevrolet SS posted their first top-five finish of the season and crew chief Justin Alexander earned MOOG “Problem Solver of the Race” honors during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, Calif. Alexander is the fifth different crew chief to win the weekly Problem Solver award in the year’s first five Cup Series starts.
MOOG, the Official Steering and Suspension of NASCAR, is a brand of Federal-Mogul Motorparts, a leading global supplier of original equipment and premium branded replacement components for automotive, commercial vehicle and other applications. Federal-Mogul Motorparts is a division of Federal-Mogul Holdings Corporation.
The MOOG Problem Solver of the Race Award is presented following each Sprint Cup event to the crew chief whose car delivers the greatest second-half improvement in average lap time while finishing on the lead lap. The Richard Childress Racing-owned 27 Chevrolet improved by a race-best 0.92-second per lap to finish fourth on Auto Club Speedway’s D-shaped, 2-mile track. It was Menard’s best finish in 13 starts at Fontana.
“We qualified 11th, which is pretty good for us, but we weren’t very happy with (the car) after final practice,” Menard said. “So, all the guys put their heads together last night and made a lot of changes overnight and got it definitely better.”
Those changes continued throughout Sunday’s race, with Alexander calling for additional adjustments to the MOOG-equipped chassis during each pit stop. “The 27 was running strong most of the afternoon, but on an older surface like Fontana, conditions can change on you in a hurry,” said Federal-Mogul Motorsports Director Tim Nelson. “Justin and his crew just kept dialing in their chassis more and more to stay ahead of those changes, and they appeared to have excellent grip and the right strategy during the late restarts.”
In addition to weekly MOOG Problem Solver honors, Federal-Mogul Motorparts sponsors the season-ending $100,000 MOOG “Problem Solver of the Year” Award, presented to the crew chief with the best overall performance throughout the 36-race season. Defending Problem Solver of the Year is Luke Lambert, crew chief for Menard’s RCR teammate Ryan Newman, who finished fifth Sunday in the MOOG-equipped No. 31 Chevrolet. The race was won by Brad Keselowski on a last-lap pass in the No. 2 Team Penske Ford, also equipped with MOOG components.
The MOOG brand, the preferred choice of professional technicians and NASCAR crew chiefs, is in its 50th year of Cup competition. MOOG parts have been the choice of every Cup series champion since 1966, an unprecedented 49-year winning streak.