Ryan Newman was one of the final two drivers to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but he, crew chief Luke Lambert and the No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet advanced to the Contender Round after delivering a solid eighth-place finish in Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Following the event, Lambert was selected as MOOG Steering and Suspension “Problem Solver of the Race” based on the MOOG-equipped 31 car’s 0.101-second-per-lap improvement over the final 200 laps.
Sponsored by Federal-Mogul Motorparts, a division of Federal-Mogul Holdings Corporation, the MOOG Problem Solver of the Race Award is presented to the crew chief whose car delivers the greatest second-half improvement in average lap time while finishing on the lead lap. At the end of the season, Federal-Mogul Motorparts will present the $100,000 MOOG “Problem Solver of the Year” Award to the crew chief with the best overall performance throughout the 36-race Sprint Cup season.
Newman, Lambert and the Richard Childress Racing-owned Chevrolet were among several teams in jeopardy of elimination from the Chase after disappointing 15th- and 18th-place finishes, respectively, at Chicagoland and New Hampshire. Things didn’t get much better during Friday’s Happy Hour session, when the 31 car qualified a disappointing 20th on a track that has traditionally been among Newman’s favorites.
“Luke and the Childress team worked their tails off improving the 31 car before Sunday’s start, and it paid off in a big way to keep them in the Chase,” said Tim Nelson, director of motorsports for Federal-Mogul Motorparts. “There was a lot of pressure on several teams out there, but Ryan and Luke kept cool and did a great job of identifying ways to enhance the performance of their MOOG-equipped chassis throughout the afternoon.”
While Newman’s top-10 finish keeps him alive in the Chase, Lambert’s weekly Problem Solver win introduces even more complexity to an incredibly tight battle for MOOG Problem Solver of the Year honors. Lambert becomes the seventh crew chief with two weekly Problem Solver wins. Two crew chiefs – Jimmy Fennig (No. 99 Ford, Carl Edwards) and Steve Letarte (No. 88 Chevrolet, Dale Earnhardt Jr.) – sit atop the standings with three wins. In the case of a tie, the $100,000 MOOG Problem Solver prize goes to the crew chief whose driver finishes highest in the Chase standings.
“With seven races to go it’s impossible to predict who’s going to take home the $100,000 check and MOOG ball joint trophy,” Nelson said. “In fact, we might not have any idea until the final performance numbers are crunched following the last race at Homestead (Florida).”
According to the company, MOOG Steering and Suspension is the preferred brand of professional technicians and NASCAR crew chiefs, and MOOG components are recognized as the automotive service industry’s “Problem Solver,” with innovative parts that improve on original designs by providing increased durability, enhanced performance and easier installation. NASCAR Cup champions have driven to victory with MOOG parts for an unprecedented 48 straight years.