Greg Ives, crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, was named MOOG “Problem Solver of the Race” after his fuel strategy helped the 88 team finish third in Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Ives won his second MOOG Problem Solver award of the season on the basis of the 88 car’s race-best 0.160-second-per-lap improvement over the final 200 laps while finishing on the lead lap. The Hendrick Motorsports team now has one win and seven top-five finishes in 12 Cup starts. The MOOG Problem Solver of the Race and $100,000 “Problem Solver of the Year” awards are sponsored by Federal-Mogul Motorparts.
After starting 15th, the 88 Chevrolet had advanced to ninth by Lap 92 and third by Lap 124. With Ives and crew continually adjusting the car’s steering and suspension, the team remained in the top 15 for the balance of the race. After pitting with 62 laps to go, Ives opted to gamble that Earnhardt could make his fuel last the rest of the way. As the leaders headed onto pit road with just over 20 laps remaining, the 88 remained on the track, advancing to third. Earnhardt was able to maintain that position over the final 35 miles despite repeatedly backing off the throttle to avoid running dry.
“It’s impressive that the 88 was able to post the best second-half improvement in spite of the fact that Dale Jr. was forced to conserve fuel over that final segment,” said Tim Nelson, director of motorsports for Federal-Mogul Motorparts. “The Hendrick team pulled out all the stops to improve their MOOG-equipped chassis throughout the race, and Greg chose a smart fuel strategy to dramatically improve their finish.”
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