Kevin Harvick and the Moog Steering and Suspension-equipped No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet led a race-high 138 laps in winning Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, and his crew chief, Gil Martin, shared in the spoils by picking up his fourth Moog “Problem Solver of the Race” Award. Martin is now tied for the lead in the $100,000 Moog “Problem Solver of the Year” standings with six races remaining in the 2013 NASCAR® Sprint Cup season.
Sponsored by Federal-Mogul Corporation the Moog Problem Solver awards recognize the talented professionals on pit road whose in-race chassis adjustments and positioning strategies best advance their cars’ competitive position. The Problem Solver of the Race Award is presented following each Sprint Cup contest to the crew chief whose car posts the best second-half improvement in average lap time while finishing on the lead lap. At the end of the season, Federal-Mogul presents the $100,000 Problem Solver of the Year Award to the crew chief with the most weekly Moog awards. With four weekly wins, Martin is tied with Ryan Newman (No. 39 Chevrolet) crew chief Matt Borland.
Harvick began and ended the weekend in the same dominating fashion. The 29 car won the pole with a track-record qualifying lap of 187.256 miles per hour. On Sunday it was by far the fastest car on the 1.5-mile track in clean air and improved by a race-best 0.254 seconds over the final 136 laps. Still, Harvick and Martin faced their share of challenges, as an ill-timed early caution shuffled their Moog-equipped Chevrolet SS well behind the leaders, forcing them to skip a scheduled pit stop to try to climb back toward the front. Martin then made a series of minor adjustments to the chassis throughout afternoon, helping Harvick remain in or near the lead.
“The 29 was in a class all its own when it was running in clean air, but it was a different story when they were stuck back in traffic,” said Federal-Mogul motorsports director Tim Nelson. “Gil kept Kevin out there on old tires so they could reclaim some of those spots – a risky strategy, but he knew they had an extra gear if they could clear the pack.”
With just six weeks remaining in the season, it would appear that any of seven crew chiefs could still walk away with season-ending Moog Problem Solver honors. Just one weekly Moog award behind Martin and Borland are Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford) crew chief Todd Gordon and Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet) crew chief Kevin Manion, while three crew chiefs – Alan Gustafson (Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Chevrolet), Steve Letarte (Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Chevrolet) and Paul Wolfe (Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford) – sit just two back.