Alan Gustafson, crew chief for Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, broke an eight-way tie in the battle for Federal-Mogul’s MOOG Chassis Parts “Problem Solver of the Year” Award by capturing weekly MOOG Problem Solver honors in Sunday’s NASCAR AAA Texas 500 Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Gustafson won the weekly MOOG award for the second straight week thanks to Gordon’s race-best 0.143-second improvement in average lap speed over the second half of the race. The No. 24 car started 23rd on what has been one of Gordon’s least favorite tracks, but cracked the top 10 within the first 70 laps and was rarely out of the top five the rest of the way. Gordon’s 6th-place finish was his best at TMS in more than two years.
“Jeff and Alan teamed up for a great run and the No. 24 was consistently running as fast as the leader over the second half,” said Federal-Mogul Motorsports Director Tim Nelson. “Alan was able to keep their MOOG-equipped chassis dialed in to the cooling track temperatures and they had a legitimate chance to win it all until their tires wore out during the final green-flag run.”
Gustafson last week moved into a tie with seven other Sprint Cup crew chiefs by winning his third MOOG Problem Solver of the Race Award, at Martinsville. Now he can clinch season-ending MOOG Problem Solver honors with a win in either of the final two races of the season. If he doesn’t win again, he needs to hope that one of the seven crew chiefs tied for second – doesn’t capture a fourth weekly MOOG award. In the case of a tie, the award does to the crew chief whose driver has the most Sprint Cup points.
“It seems like every year we have someone make a late run to win this award, and it’s looking like Alan might be the man in 2011. But any one of those seven other crew chiefs is capable of winning one or both of the final two races,” Nelson said. “Nothing would surprise me at this point – it has been a great battle from beginning to end.”