Matt Puccia, crew chief for the No. 16 Kleen Performance Products Ford Fusion, rolled the dice by keeping his driver, Greg Biffle, on the track while other teams were opting for fuel and new tires in the final 85 laps of Sunday’s Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, N.H. The gamble paid off as the 16 car had just enough fuel to coast over the finish line in fourth place. Following the race, Puccia received the “Problem Solver of the Race” crew chief award from MOOG, the Official Steering and Suspension of NASCAR.
Sponsored by MOOG Steering and Suspension parts manufacturer Federal-Mogul Motorparts, a division of Federal-Mogul Holdings Corporation, the weekly Problem Solver award is presented to the crew chief whose car delivers the greatest second-half improvement in average lap time while finishing on the lead lap. The Roush-Fenway Racing-owned 16 car, which started 25th, improved by a race-high 0.389-seconds per lap in earning its third top-five finish of 2015. The race was won by Matt Kenseth and the MOOG-equipped No. 20 Toyota Camry.
Biffle was running 15th with 85 laps to go when Puccia made the call to finish without additional fuel or new tires. Although he was backing off the throttle to conserve fuel, Biffle briefly took the lead following a restart with 60 laps to go, dropped back to fourth but then fought off several challenges over the final green-flag segments to finish in the top five.
Puccia’s weekly Problem Solver win – his first – leaves the top of the standings unchanged in the battle for the $100,000 MOOG “Problem Solver of the Year” Award. With eight races remaining, Dale Earnhardt (No. 88 Chevrolet) crew chief Greg Ives leads with four weekly Problem Solver wins, followed by rookie Justin Alexander (No. 27 Chevrolet/Paul Menard) with three. Seven crew chiefs have two wins apiece.