Todd Parrott, crew chief for the No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion driven by Aric Almirola, won Federal-Mogul’s) Moog Steering and Suspension “Problem Solver of the Race” Award in Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after helping Almirola overcome tight handling to post his first top-five finish of the season.
The 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 each NASCAR Sprint Cup race while finishing on the lead lap. Almirola started 17th but parlayed a race-best 0.327-second improvement and savvy pit strategy by Parrott to capture only the second top-five of his Sprint Cup career and improve to 16thplace in points with seven races remaining before the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Almirola and Parrott battled a stubbornly tight car for much of the race, with Parrott calling for a succession of chassis adjustments throughout the day to improve the 43 Ford’s handling in the center and off the corners of New Hampshire’s comparatively flat 1.06-mile oval. The Richard Petty Motorsports-owned Ford made modest gains after each stop, but it was Parrott’s decision to recall Almirola to pit road for four tires after a just-completed two-tire stop that set the stage for the team’s strong finish. That extra splash of fuel and five cautions over the final 90 laps enabled the 43 car to remain on the track, and the Ford’s handling improved dramatically as this strategy helped Almirola advance through the field. The team was running second by Lap 224 (of 302), fell back to sixth but posted its fastest laps of the day in finishing the race in the top five.
“Todd threw everything he had at the 43 car today, trying to find the right combination to free up Aric in the corners. As it turned out, their Moog-equipped chassis was set up to run much better in clean air and once Aric got into the top six or seven he could go head-to-head with almost anybody,” said Federal-Mogul motorsports director Tim Nelson. “Todd’s Moog Problem Solver award is the result of a never-give-up attitude combined with a really smart call on fuel strategy over the final third of the race.”
Parrott becomes the 15th different Sprint Cup crew chief in 19 races to win the weekly Moog Problem Solver award. With 17 races remaining in the 2013 season, it’s anyone’s guess who will capture the prestigious $100,000 Moog “Problem Solver of the Year” Award. Matt Borland (No. 39 Chevrolet) leads the pack with three weekly Moog award wins, followed by Todd Gordon (No. 22 Ford) and Kevin Manion (No. 1 Chevrolet) with two, and 12 crew chiefs with one.