SOUTHFIELD, Mich. They didn’t get the win they were hoping for, but road course specialist Marcos Ambrose and the No. 9 Stanley Ford Fusion team didn’t leave Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway empty-handed, as crew chief Drew Blickensderfer received the MOOG Steering and Suspension “Problem Solver of the Race” Award following Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup event. The No. 9 car finished eighth after starting well back in the field and encountering early handling issues.
Sponsored by Federal-Mogul Motorparts, a division of Federal-Mogul Holdings Corp., the weekly MOOG Problem Solver award is presented to the crew chief whose car posts the greatest second-half improvement in average lap time while finishing on the lead lap. Federal-Mogul Motorparts also sponsors the $100,000 MOOG Problem Solver of the Year Award, which is presented to the crew chief with the best overall performance throughout the 36-race season.
Ambrose, whose two career Sprint Cup victories have come on road courses, was hoping to position himself for a spot in the year-end Chase with his first-ever win at Sonoma. However, the driver battled intermittent handling issues over the first 50 laps as Blickensderfer and the Richard Petty Motorsports crew dialed in the car’s MOOG-equipped steering and suspension system. By mid-race, Ambrose had advanced into the top 15 and he briefly led the field with 30 laps remaining. The No. 9 Fusion posted a race-best improvement of 0.538 seconds per lap over the final 55 laps.
“The biggest challenge for drivers out there today was striking the right balance between horsepower and tire life,” said Tim Nelson, motorsports director for Federal-Mogul Motorparts. “Once the 9 team found that balance and Drew fine-tuned their MOOG-equipped chassis, they were back in the mix and had a shot at a top five finish.”
The recipient of the 2009 MOOG Problem Solver of the Year Award, Blickensderfer is the 11th different crew chief to win weekly MOOG honors in the year’s first 16 events.
MOOG Steering and Suspension is the preferred brand of professional technicians and NASCAR crew chiefs, and MOOG components are recognized as the automotive service industry’s “Problem Solver,” with innovative parts that improve on original designs by providing increased durability, enhanced performance and easier installation. NASCAR Cup champions have driven to victory with MOOG parts for an unprecedented 48 straight years.