Crew Chief Paul Wolfe wins his first MOOG ‘Problem Solver’ Award
Paul Wolfe, crew chief for Brad Keselowski and Team Penske’s No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion, won his first MOOG Steering and Suspension “Problem Solver of the Race” Award after helping Keselowski finish 10th in Sunday’s Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. MOOG is the Official Steering and Suspension of NASCAR.
Sponsored by Federal-Mogul Motorparts, the weekly MOOG Problem Solver 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. Federal-Mogul Motorparts also sponsors the $100,000 MOOG “Problem Solver of the Year” Award, presented to the crew chief with the best overall performance throughout the 36-race Cup season.
Keselowski described his car as “crazy fast” off the start, and the No. 2 Ford quickly advanced into the top 10 after beginning the day in 31st position. Wolfe and the Team Penske crew made several adjustments to the car’s MOOG-equipped chassis to improve its performance in the hot and humid racing conditions. Like every crew chief, Wolfe also was experimenting with the “high-drag” aero package instituted for the race to promote drafting and pack racing. One unexpected consequence of the package – which included a 9-inch spoiler, tail extension and other modifications – was a significantly hotter cockpit.
“The heat was an additional variable that each crew chief had to manage,” said Tim Nelson, director of motorsports for Federal-Mogul Motorparts. “Paul did an excellent job of helping Brad focus on picking up track position, and his chassis adjustments seemed to give the 2 car an added boost after almost every pit stop.”
Keselowski posted a race-best improvement of 0.120-second per lap over the final 82 laps to earn his 12th top-10 finish of the season. The race was won by Kyle Busch and the MOOG-equipped No. 18 Toyota Camry. Busch has been victorious in four of the past five Sprint Cup races.
Wolfe is the 14th different crew chief to win MOOG Problem Solver of the Race honors this year. After 20 races, rookie crew chief Justin Alexander (Paul Menard/No. 27 Chevrolet) holds the lead for the year-end Problem Solver award with three weekly MOOG awards, followed by Todd Gordon (Joey Logano/No. 22 Ford), Chad Knaus (Jimmie Johnson/No. 48 Chevrolet), Greg Ives (Dale Earnhardt Jr./No. 88 Chevrolet) and Richard “Slugger” Labbe (Austin Dillon/No. 3 Chevrolet) with two wins apiece.