Rodney Childers, crew chief for Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, won the MOOG Steering and Suspension brand’s weekly “Problem Solver of the Race” award after helping Harvick overcome early handling issues and a fuel miscue to finish second in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Michigan International Speedway.
Sponsored by MOOG Steering and Suspension manufacturer Federal-Mogul Motorparts, the weekly Problem Solver award is presented to the crew chief whose car has posted the greatest second-half improvement in average lap time while finishing on the lead lap. The company also sponsors the $100,000 MOOG “Problem Solver of the Year” Award, presented to the crew chief with the best overall performance throughout the 36-race Sprint Cup season.
Harvick, who started seventh, battled handling issues in the opening segment of the race, but Childers and the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) crew quickly resolved those problems through a series of adjustments to the car’s MOOG-equipped chassis. The 4 car had captured the lead by lap 99 of 200 when Harvick reported that he had run out of fuel. He was able to coast onto pit road and refuel without falling a lap down, however. The Chevrolet quickly moved back into the top 10 and was running third by lap 142. Childers used smart pit strategy to help Harvick gain an additional position over the closing laps for a runner-up finish behind Matt Kenseth and the MOOG-equipped No. 20 Toyota Camry.
Childers earned his second weekly MOOG award based on the 4 car’s race-best 0.300-second-per-lap improvement over the final 100 laps. With two weekly Problem Solver wins, he moves into a six-way tie for second place with crew chiefs Todd Gordon (Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford), Greg Ives (Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Chevrolet), Chad Knaus (Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet), Paul Wolfe (Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford), and Richard “Slugger” Labbe (Austin Dillon, N. 3 Chevrolet). Rookie crew chief Justin Alexander (Paul Menard/No. 27 Chevrolet) leads with three weekly MOOG awards.
“With 13 races to go, it’s likely that our MOOG Problem Solver of the Year winner will be one of the top seven crew chiefs in our current standings, but that’s about the only prediction I’m willing to make,” said Tim Nelson, director of motorsports for Federal-Mogul Motorparts. “There’s too much racing left, and too much talent and pride among those crew chiefs, to call anyone the odds-on favorite at this point. I’m certain it will be another thrilling finish in the battle for this prestigious award.”