Crew Chief Alan Gustafson wins MOOG ‘Problem Solver’ award
A series of mid-race chassis adjustments helped propel four-time NASCAR Sprint Car champion Jeff Gordon to a top-10 finish in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which was postponed from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon due to heavy rain.
Those adjustments also helped Gordon’s crew chief, Alan Gustafson, win the “Problem Solver of the Race” award from MOOG, the Official Steering and Suspension of NASCAR.
Gustafson’s Problem Solver award, his first of 2015, came after the MOOG-equipped No. 24 3M Chevrolet improved by a race-best 0.048-second per lap over the second half to finish eighth. The weekly Problem Solver award and the $100,000 MOOG “Problem Solver of the Year” Award are sponsored by global vehicle components manufacturer Federal-Mogul Motorparts.
Gordon, who is retiring at the end of the year, struggled to stay in the top 20 during the first 200 miles of racing due to tight handling. Gustafson solved the problem with adjustments to the MOOG-equipped chassis during a green-flag pit stop on Lap 127. The 24 car, which started 22nd, advanced to 13th position over the next 50 laps and cracked the top 10 by Lap 228. Gordon briefly led just three laps later until a series of pit stops reshuffled the field, but remained in the top 10 over the balance of the race. The race was won by Joey Logano, who led 227 of 334 laps in the MOOG-equipped No. 22 Ford.
“Any time the weather forces a postponement, chassis setup is going to be a huge challenge, and we saw that with several teams, including the 24,” said Tim Nelson, director of motorsports for Federal-Mogul Motorparts. “We also saw that Alan is one of the best in the business when it comes to solving these types of problems in the heat of competition. His work put Jeff back into contention and kept their hopes alive for a Cup title.”
With the top-10 finish, Gordon is ranked seventh among the 12 drivers competing in the Contender Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
The standings in another key battle – for the prestigious MOOG Problem Solver of the Year Award – remain largely unchanged, with Greg Ives, crew chief for Dale Earnhardt and the No. 88 Chevrolet, holding a two-win lead over Justin Alexander (Paul Menard/ No. 27 Chevrolet) with six races remaining. Seven crew chiefs have two weekly MOOG wins apiece. Seventeen crew chiefs have won at least one weekly Problem Solver award.