Two penalties for speeding on pit road likely cost Denny Hamlin a chance to win, but his crew chief, Dave Rogers, earned the Moog Steering and Suspension brand’s “Problem Solver of the Race” award after Hamlin and the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota mounted an impressive comeback to finish third in Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Moog is the Official Steering and Suspension of NASCAR.
Rogers earned his second weekly Problem Solver award of 2015 after the Moog-equipped 11 car improved by a race-best 0.151-second per lap over the second half of Sunday’s race while finishing on the lead lap. The weekly Problem Solver award and $100,000 Moog “Problem Solver of the Year” Award are sponsored by global vehicle components manufacturer Federal-Mogul Motorparts, a division of Federal-Mogul Holdings Corporation.
Hamlin, who started 10th, had an exceptionally fast car all afternoon, particularly on long runs. Unfortunately, long runs were few and far between, with 18 cautions slowing the field. Additionally, the 11 lost significant track position following penalties for speeding on pit road on laps 54 and 418.
“The 11 team definitely had some tough luck, but each time Denny just let the car do what Dave had tuned it to do and they fought their way back,” said Tim Nelson, director of motorsports for Federal-Mogul Motorparts. “They never quit, which is a key to problem solving excellence.”
Hamlin was running 15th at lap 222, 11th by midrace and third with 115 laps to go. The second penalty cost the team 13 positions, but the 11 again charged toward the front. The 11 appeared destined for a fifth-place finish with three laps to go, but Hamlin picked up two more spots to cap off an impressive comeback. Picking up his 96th career win Sunday was Jeff Gordon, who is retiring from the Moog-equipped No. 24 Chevrolet at the end of the season.
With three races remaining, Rogers is one of eight crew chiefs who have two weekly Moog wins and are tied for third place in the year-end Problem Solver standings. Leading the pack with five Moog wins is Greg Ives, crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 Chevrolet, followed rookie crew chief Justin Alexander (Paul Menard, No. 27 Chevrolet).