Darian Grubb captures NASCAR MOOG ‘Problem Solver of the Race’ Award
Darian Grubb, crew chief of Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet, never lost his optimism – even after Stewart was forced to start in 43rd position following a crash that destroyed his primary car – and that positive outlook helped secure a memorable win in Sunday’s Pocono 500 as well as Grubb’s first NASCAR MOOG “Problem Solver of the Race” Award.
Sponsored by Federal-Mogul Corporation (NASDAQ: FDML), manufacturer of MOOG steering and suspension components, the Problem Solver of the Race Award is presented following each NASCAR Sprint Cup event to the crew chief whose car finishes on the lead lap and posts the largest increase in average lap speed from the first half to the second half of the race.
Stewart and the No. 14 car seemed destined for a start on the pole after Friday’s qualifying session was rained out. During Saturday’s first practice session, however, Stewart spun on the tunnel turn of Pocono’s 2.5-mile tri-oval, causing significant front-end damage to his car. The incident forced the team to turn to its backup car, putting Stewart in the back row for Sunday’s start.
He wasn’t there for long, though. Thanks to the hard work of Grubb and crew in carefully applying the primary car’s chassis setup to the backup car and relying heavily on the consistency and precision of MOOG chassis parts, Stewart charged out of the blocks, relentlessly picking up positions through the first 50 laps. The No. 14 Chevrolet moved into the top 10 within the first 115 miles and remained in the top five over the balance of the 500-mile race.
“When you see a car make up that kind of real estate so quickly, you know they have the perfect engine and chassis combination for the track and weather conditions,” said Federal-Mogul Motorsports Director Tim Nelson. “We also saw the No. 14 team at their very best in the pits, especially in the last stop when they beat Carl Edwards back onto the track.”
In spite of Stewart’s confidence in the car, he and Grubb chose to skip one last chance to refuel. While this strategy gave the No. 14 Chevrolet a six-second lead over Carl Edwards with just 45 laps to go, it kept many observers on the edge of their seats. In fact, Edwards and other drivers assumed Stewart would run out of fuel before the finish. He didn’t.
“The crew work for the No. 14 was among the best we’ve seen this year,” Nelson said. “They made all of the right calls in getting their backup into race-day shape and they made the right adjustments throughout the day to give Tony a chance to win it all.”