Crew Chief Steve Letarte wins second straight MOOG award
The MOOG Problem Solver award is presented to the crew chief whose car delivers the largest increase in average lap speed during the second half of each event while finishing on the lead lap. Earnhardt said the No. 88 Chevrolet “woke up” in the second half of the race thanks to a series of chassis adjustments made by Letarte and the Hendrick Motorsports crew. The numbers certainly bear that out, with Earnhardt delivering a race-high 0.198-second-per-lap improvement over the final 133 laps to finish eighth.
“I kept telling Stevie what I thought I needed and what the car felt like it was doing wrong and he was hitting on it every time (with adjustments),” Earnhardt said.
The No. 88 car’s strong finish gave Earnhardt only his second set of consecutive top 10s since mid-season last year. It also moved him up seven spots, to 10th, in Sprint Cup points. Earnhardt had a chance at a top-five finish and ran as high as fourth in the final 30 laps, but got caught in traffic following his final pit stop.
“For two straight weeks Steve and Dale have demonstrated how important it is to keep adjusting your car’s chassis throughout the race, no matter what challenges you might be facing,” said Federal-Mogul Motorsports Director Tim Nelson. “Dale did a great job describing how the car was handling and Steve was masterful in coming up with the right solutions during each pit stop. And that’s what the MOOG award is all about.”