Kurt Busch and crew chief Daniel Knost recorded two memorable “firsts” — Busch’s first victory with Stewart-Haas Racing and Knost’s inaugural win as a crew chief — in Sunday’s STP 500 NASCAR® Sprint Cup race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Knost ended the day with an additional honor: his second consecutive MOOG® Steering and Suspension “Problem Solver of the Race” Award.
Sponsored by global vehicle components manufacturer Federal-Mogul Corporation (NASDAQ: FDML), the MOOG Problem Solver of the Race Award is presented to the crew chief whose car posts the greatest second-half improvement in average lap time while finishing in the top 10. Busch and Knost’s No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS improved by a race-best 0.153-seconds per lap over the final 250 miles on Martinsville’s 0.526-mile “paperclip.” Federal-Mogul also sponsors the $100,000 MOOG “Problem Solver of the Year” Award, which is presented to the crew chief with the most weekly MOOG wins during the season.
Knost and Busch overcame a number of challenges during the race, including damage to their car during an early pit stop. Following an extra stop to complete repairs, the 41 was seemingly mired in 38th place, but the MOOG-equipped Chevrolet made steady progress toward the front of the field over the next 100 laps. Busch and six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson traded the lead back and forth over the final 25 miles, with Busch regaining the advantage for good on Lap 490 of 500.
“We were just saying last week that Daniel and Kurt were making huge progress in their first season together, but I don’t know that anyone expected them to win this quickly,” says Federal-Mogul Motorsports Director Tim Nelson. “What’s most impressive is how they did it – Daniel and the Stewart-Haas team kept improving the 41’s handling with every stop, and Kurt stayed focused after they were involved in the incident on pit road early in the race.”
With six races in the books, four different crew chiefs have won weekly MOOG Problem Solver honors: Knost and Jimmy Fennig (No. 99 Ford, Carl Edwards) have two wins; and Alan Gustafson (No. 24 Chevrolet, Jeff Gordon) and Richard “Slugger” Labbe (No. 27 Chevrolet, Paul Menard) each has one.
Subscribe to Motor Age and receive articles like this every month…absolutely free. Click here