Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe nursed the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge’s final drops of fuel over the closing eight laps at Kansas Speedway to win Sunday’s NASCAR STP 400 Sprint Cup race. It was the first win of 2011 for the Penske Racing-owned team and carried an additional bonus in the form of Wolfe’s first-ever MOOG Chassis Parts “Problem Solver of the Race” Award from Federal-Mogul Corporation.
The MOOG Problem Solver Award is presented following each Sprint Cup contest to the crew chief whose car posts the best second-half improvement in average lap speed while finishing on the lead lap. The MOOG-equipped No. 2 Dodge delivered a race-best 0.025-second boost on Kansas’ 1.5-mile oval even though Keselowski was forced to coast through corners to save fuel over the closing laps.
“Brad went four laps farther than anyone else in the top five without fueling, which says a lot about the confidence he and Paul had in their strategy as well as the performance of their MOOG-equipped steering and suspension system,” said Federal-Mogul Motorsports Director Tim Nelson. “Laying off the throttle isn’t enough to conserve fuel in Sprint Cup racing – your chassis has to provide an exceptionally smooth and precise ride, with no tire scrub or lost traction.”
Keselowski didn’t have the fastest car on the track; that honor belonged to Penske teammate Kurt Busch, who started on the pole and led more than half the race before being forced into the pits for fuel with just seven laps to go. Meanwhile, the No. 2 car was quietly progressing through the top 15 and eventually moving into the runner-up spot with 11 laps remaining. Keselowski assumed the lead with Busch’s trip into the pits and surprised the rest of the field – especially runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet) – by surviving on fumes through the checkered flag.