Clint Bowyer and crew chief Brian Pattie battled back from a mid-race accident to finish second in Sunday’s STP Gas Booster 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, and Pattie capped off the day by winning Federal-Mogul’s Moog Steering and Suspension “Problem Solver of the Race” Award. The finish boosted the No. 15 RK Motors Toyota team six spots, to eighth, in Sprint Cup points.
The weekly Moog Problem Solver award is presented to the crew chief whose car posts the greatest improvement in average lap time during the second half of the race while finishing on the lead lap. Bowyer and Pattie’s Michael Waltrip Racing-owned Toyota, which started 15th, improved by a race-best 0.184 second per lap on Martinsville’s .526-mile asphalt and concrete oval.
The No. 15 Camry sustained front-end damage in a chain-reaction crash on Lap 180, but its Moog-equipped chassis continued to provide exceptional handling, enabling Bowyer to thread his way into the top five and set up a 13-lap sprint to the finish with Jimmie Johnson. Johnson and the Moog-equipped No. 48 Chevrolet had the inside lane and fresher tires, however, and the five-time Sprint Cup champion pulled away for a 0.628-second margin of victory.
“The 15 team struggled a bit in qualifying but Brian had the car dialed in perfectly for both of Saturday’s practice sessions and today’s race,” said Federal-Mogul motorsports director Tim Nelson. “They took a pretty hard shot in that accident, but Brian and his crew quickly identified the adjustments they needed to make a run back toward the front. They never gave up, which is what the Moog Problem Solver award is all about.”