Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s crew chief, Steve Letarte, won his first MOOG “Problem Solver of the Race” Award of 2013 after the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS delivered its second consecutive top-five finish in Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway.
The prestigious weekly and year-end MOOG “Problem Solver” awards are presented by global vehicle components manufacturer Federal-Mogul Corporation.
The Problem Solver of the Race award is presented to the crew chief whose car posts the greatest second-half improvement in average lap time while finishing on the lead lap. The 88 Chevrolet, which started in 21st position, improved by a race-best 0.177-second over the final 158 laps to finish fifth at PIR.
“Steve had the 88 car humming today – his setup was spot-on at the start and it really took off with a little clean air after the first 100 laps,” said Federal-Mogul Motorsports Director Tim Nelson. “But his MOOG Problem Solver award is a result of the great adjustments and pit strategy that helped make the 88 even faster in the later stages of the race.”
Earnhardt broke into the top 10 on Lap 100 and held the lead for 41 laps during the middle portion of the race before a caution flag reshuffled the field. He was forced to conserve fuel in the closing laps after a caution extended the race for a green-white-checkered finish.
Letarte won the weekly MOOG Problem Solver award four times in 2012 and was runner-up to crew chief Steve Addington (No. 14 Chevrolet) for the $100,000 MOOG “Problem Solver of the Year” Award.
Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and has been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993.