Crew Chief Steve Letarte Named Top MOOG ‘Problem Solver’ at Indianapolis
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader for the first time in eight years and crew chief Steve Letarte is now tied atop the standings for the prestigious MOOG Steering and Suspension “Problem Solver of the Year” Award after the No. 88 team finished fourth in Sunday’s Curtiss Shaver 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Following the race, Letarte received the weekly MOOG “Problem Solver of the Race” Award, his third of 2012.
Sponsored by global vehicle components manufacturer Federal-Mogul Corporation, the MOOG Problem Solver of the Race Award is presented following each Sprint Cup contest to the crew chief whose car posts the greatest improvement in average lap speed over the second half of the race while finishing on the lead lap. Letarte’s nearly perfect prerace setup of the MOOG-equipped No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet allowed Earnhardt to move from 20th to 10th position before the first round of pit stops. But the 88 car got even faster in the second half, improving by a race-best 0.345 second over the final 80 laps at the Brickyard.
“No one has been more consistent from week to week than Dale and Steve, and that’s the secret to moving up the standings,” said Federal-Mogul Motorsports Director Tim Nelson. “They didn’t qualify particularly well (20th) on Friday, but Steve made up for it with a great chassis setup at the start of the race. It was obvious Dale had a special car, and they kept making it better throughout the day.”
In addition to its ninth top-five finish of 2012, the 88 team notched a NASCAR record-tying 21st straight finish on the lead lap. The race was won by Earnhardt’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson and the MOOG-equipped No. 48 Chevrolet.
With his third weekly MOOG award win, Letarte moves into a tie with Steve Addington (No. 14 Chevrolet) for the lead in the battle for the $100,000 MOOG Problem Solver of the Year Award. Just one win behind are five crew chiefs – Jimmy Fennig (No. 17 Ford), Alan Gustafson (No. 24 Chevrolet), Chad Johnston (No. 56 Toyota), Chad Knaus (No. 48 Chevrolet), and Brian Pattie (No. 15 Toyota).
MOOG Steering and Suspension components are the leading choice automotive repair professionals and of top crew chiefs and have helped drive an unprecedented 46 consecutive NASCAR Cup champions to victory.