Roswell, GA (April 6, 2011) – Steve Letarte, crew chief for the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr., has been named the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race following the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday afternoon.
As the final round of green-flag pit stops began with just over 40 laps left, Earnhardt was running seventh. Letarte kept his driver out as long possible, and while now running fourth, the caution flag came out. Letarte and company then pulled off a lightening fast stop for four fresh tires, pushing Earnhardt up another spot to third.
When the green flag waived with 29 laps to go, the pit stop allowed Earnhardt to start in the all important inside of the second row at the paper-clip shaped track. Earnhardt quickly muscled his way to the top spot before giving way to Kevin Harvick with just four circuits remaining. The runnerup finish was Earnhardt’s best since he was a bridesmaid for the 2010 Daytona 500. Letarte became Earnhardt’s crew chief during the off-season.
“I’m just happy to be running well,” said Earnhardt, who improved to eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup driver standings. “I’m thankful for the opportunity I’ve got, and thankful for all the help I’ve got with Steve and the rest of my team. The race team works hard, and when I don’t have the speed, they find the speed. It’s working real good together.”
“Steve also made good calls from the beginning to get Junior track position,” said WYPALL Wipers crew chief representative and FOX/Speed analyst Jeff Hammond. “Having not worked together that long and to come and pull off a finish like this is incredible. Each week they just keep getting better and better.”
WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief Results
Steve Addington, Kurt Busch and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil team finished in 16th after battling a severe tight-handling car all afternoon, going down a lap. The Addington-led team is now fourth place in the Sprint Cup standings.
“We certainly wanted more than that – a whole lot more,” said Addington. “We just got so far behind and had to play catch-up all race long. We had just pitted when the caution came out there with 30 laps to go. It was a struggle for us, but Kurt and the guys hung in there. I’m just glad that the tire situation didn’t get any worse than it did. We played the conservative route after our tires showed cords on the first stop after 50 laps and didn’t take any chances at all the rest of the race. To have the day we did and still leave here fourth in points is some consolation.”
Paul Wolfe and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge of Brad Keselowski saw tire issues worsen their day. Keselowski appeared to have a potential top-10 run going until he had a right-front tire go down and lost two laps when he had to pit under green flag conditions. The “Blue Deuce” was credited with a 19th-place finish and is currently 25th in the point standings.
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.