Paul Menard drove arguably his best race of the season and his crew chief, Richard “Slugger” Labbe, earned his first Moog Steering and Suspension “Problem Solver of the Race” Award in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Menard and Labbe’s No. 27 NIBCO/Menards Chevrolet SS finished fourth after starting the day in 20th position.
Presented by global vehicle components manufacturer Federal-Mogul Corporation, the Moog Problem Solver of the Race Award is presented to the crew chief whose car posts the greatest second-half improvement in average lap time. The Richard Childress Racing-owned Chevrolet, fitted with Moog-equipped chassis No. 428, improved by a race-high 0.469 seconds per lap over the final 100 laps.
Labbe is the 16th different crew chief to win weekly Moog Problem Solver honors in 23 races this year. He is just two wins behind co-leaders Todd Gordon (Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford) and Matt Borland (Ryan Newman, No. 39 Chevrolet) in the battle for the $100,000 Moog “Problem Solver of the Year” Award.
“Slugger has won our weekly award several times over the years, and his performance was just as impressive today,” said Federal-Mogul motorsports director Tim Nelson. “The 27 was much faster than their qualifying position and Slugger made a series of great calls that helped Paul move up and stay among the leaders over the final series of green-flag runs. It looked like Slugger had their steering and suspension system dialed in perfectly for today’s track conditions.”
The team’s first top-five finish keeps alive their hopes for a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Menard moved up two positions, to 17th, in points with three races to go before the Chase field is set at Richmond. “They’re in the same position as six or seven other teams on the bubble – they’ve got to get a win and run strong over the next three weeks,” Nelson said.