Gil Martin wins NASCAR MOOG ‘Problem Solver of the Race’ Award
Kevin Harvick executed crew chief Gil Martin’s pre-race strategy to perfection and the No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet whipped around race leader Jamie McMurray in the closing seconds for a much-needed win in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 Sprint Cup event at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
Following the race, Martin received the NASCAR MOOG “Problem Solver of the Race” Award from MOOG chassis parts manufacturer Federal-Mogul Corporation. The MOOG Problem Solver Award is presented following each Sprint Cup event to the crew chief whose car posts the largest increase in average lap speed from the first half to the second half of the race while finishing on the lead lap. Harvick’s No. 29 Chevrolet improved by 0.024 second per lap at Talladega – a huge factor in the outcome considering Harvick’s razor-thin (0.011 second) margin of victory.
Coming into Sunday’s race, the No. 29 team had posted two top-five and five top-10 finishes and stood fourth overall in Sprint Cup points. The win catapulted Harvick into second place in points and reaffirmed the team’s competitiveness.
Starting the day in fourth position on a MOOG-equipped chassis that had won February’s Bud Shootout at Daytona, Harvick drove conservatively to avoid “The Big One” – one of the many multi-car incidents that have occurred on this 2.66-mile restrictor-plate tri-oval. In fact, the No. 29 team’s patience extended nearly 12 laps beyond the race’s scheduled distance due to NASCAR’s modified green-white-checkered finish rule. But right on cue, Harvick, who had pushed McMurray’s No. 1 Chevrolet throughout the final lap, swung to the inside for a perfectly executed slingshot to the checkered flag.
"We made a plan, and I'm telling you, every piece of it played out exactly how we wanted to play it," Harvick said. "Coming into the last lap, that's exactly how we planned it out on paper."
“For a chassis parts manufacturer, there’s no more thrilling way to win a race,” added Federal-Mogul Director of Motorsports Tim Nelson. “Kevin couldn’t have made that move without world-class steering and handling response – and that’s the role of MOOG products.”