Roswell, GA (March 30, 2011) – Gil Martin, crew chief for the No. 29 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet driven by Kevin Harvick, has been named the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race following the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Sunday afternoon.
Martin was faced with a crucial decision with 15 laps to go – to have his driver pit or not to pit for fresh right side tires – when the race’s final caution of the day occurred. Thinking track position was best, he kept Harvick on the track, and he restarted fifth.
Harvick, from nearby Bakersfield, CA, worked his way up to second with just two laps to go, and on the final turn of the final lap, he shot past leader Jimmie Johnson in a drag race to the finish line.
“I was really nervous about that last call staying out but it all worked out in our favor and we were able to make up ground. Gil and all of the guys on this Jimmy John’s Chevrolet did a great job today,” said Harvick, who gave team owner Richard Childress his first triumph at Fontana.
After qualifying a disappointing 24th, the Martin-led team made continuous adjustments to Harvick’s ill-handling car in the first half of the race. From the midway point until the end of the event, Harvick was never worse than seventh.
“Gil made the right decision to stay out there late in the race,” said WYPALL Wipers crew chief representative and FOX/Speed analyst Jeff Hammond. “Those last minute adjustments to the car are what gave Harvick the ability to make the last-lap pass and win the race. To see two RCR crew chiefs (Slugger Labbe at Bristol) win the WYPALL award back-to-back weekends just shows that they are a strong organization and have what it takes to win.”
WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief Results
Steve Addington, Kurt Busch and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil team finished in 17th after fighting a tight-handling car all afternoon. With 177 points, the Addington-led team is now third place in the Sprint Cup standings.
“That’s certainly not what we came here for and we know we really have our work cut out for us,” Addington offered after the race. “That 17th was probably better than we deserved with the way things were going. We had like a 25th-place car and Kurt got up on the wheel and got all he could out of it after that last restart. We’ll take our lumps and learn from it this weekend.”
Paul Wolfe and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge of Brad Keselowski finished a disappointing 26th after battling an ill-handling car. The Wolfe-led team made numerous adjustments through the 200-lap event but nothing seemed to work.
“We were hoping for big things this weekend, but it didn’t carry over,” said Keselowski. “We’ve got to go back and think about what we need to do to be able to run up front. We made some small gains during the race, but we had some losses, too. At least we were able to bring back the car in one piece.”
WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief Voting Team
Addington and Wolfe, along with Hammond and Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Claire B. Lang, serve as the panel for the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief Challenge and vote for the weekly crew chief winners.
Each weekly WYPALL Crew Chief Challenge winner will be a guest on Lang’s “Dialed In” program on Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 128 at 8 p.m. EST on Wednesdays throughout the season.
The crew chief with the most weekly top wins will be honored as the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and will be presented a $10,000 check during the weekend of the WYPALL 200 Presented by Kimberly-Clark Professional Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday, November 12, 2011.
About WYPALL Wipers:
Since 2004, Kimberly-Clark Professional’s WYPALL Wipers brand has been affiliated with some of racing’s top teams. Offering heavy-duty to versatile light-duty towels, WYPALL Wipers provides race teams with a number of products providing strength and durability. Defeating the toughest of challenges, from absorbing tough grease and oil to wiping down windshields without leaving residue behind, WYPALL Wipers continue to offer performance and versatility.
The WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief Challenge will continue throughout the remainder of the 2011 season and spotlight the men behind the machines. For more information, log onto www.wypall.com.
About Penske Racing
Penske Racing is one of the most successful teams in the history of professional sports. Competing in a variety of disciplines, cars owned and prepared by Penske Racing have produced 332 major race wins, 396 pole positions and 23 National Championships. The team has also earned 15 Indianapolis 500 victories. For more information about Penske Racing, please visit www.penskeracing.com.