Joey Logano and Penske Racing’s No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion nearly missed the start of Saturday night’s NRA 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway, yet the 22 team rallied for an improbable top-five finish and Logano’s crew chief, Todd Gordon, received Federal-Mogul’s Moog Steering and Suspension “Problem Solver of the Race” Award.
The weekly Moog Problem Solver award is presented to the crew chief whose car posts the greatest improvement in average lap time over the second half of the race while finishing on the lead lap. Logano and Gordon teamed up for a race-best 0.365-second improvement, but Gordon deserved the Moog award almost as much for simply getting his car onto the track in time for the green flag. The 22 car required three pre-race passes through NASCAR’s laser inspection platform and was still being weighed in the garage area when the command was given for drivers to start their engines. Because he was late to the starting grid, Logano lost his qualifying position (18th) and was relegated to the back of the field.
“It would have been easy to use all of that pre-race drama as an excuse for a disappointing performance, but Todd did an amazing job keeping his team focused on improving their car and winning the race,” said Federal-Mogul motorsports director Tim Nelson. “I don’t think anyone other than Todd and Joey would have believed they could come back to finish in the top five after nearly missing the start. It was a case of true problem solving excellence.”
Logano advanced his Moog-equipped Fusion into the top 20 just 100 laps into the 334-lap race and was running third with 50 laps to go. The 22 team had a fast car last weekend, as well, at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway but finished 23rd due to nagging electrical issues. Saturday’s top five finish moved Logano from 11th to ninth in Sprint Cup points.
“They needed a top five here to regain their momentum. The 22 car wasn’t perfect, but Todd’s adjustments to the Moog-equipped steering and suspension system kept them within striking distance all night, and Joey did a great job bringing it home in the final green flag run,” Nelson said.