Roswell, GA (April 20, 2011) – Steve Letarte, crew chief for the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr., has been named the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race following the Aarons 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Teamwork was the key component to the closing laps Sunday afternoon as Earnhardt worked with teammate Jimmie Johnson to push him to the win.
On the final lap of the 188-lap race, Earnhardt coached his teammate over the radio as he also received words of encouragement from Letarte, giving Johnson the shove he needed to win. As Johnson crossed the finish line three-wide with Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon, he didn’t even realize he had won. The margin of victory of .002 seconds tied the all-time NASCAR record for the closest finish. Earnhardt followed in fourth.
“Both y’all won that race-both y’all,” crew chief Steve Letarte radioed to Earnhardt after the race. Earnhardt led a total of 11 laps and now sits third in the Sprint Cup standings.
“I was more comfortable pushing Jimmie, and I think we were the faster combination that way,” Earnhardt said. “For some reason, when I was leading, I would drive off his nose, and even running quarter-throttle, I couldn’t stay with him. We got clear of the pack coming to the white flag, and I told Jimmie not to lift no matter what. We finished great today, and that’s a tribute to Steve, the guys and the craftsmanship we have back in Charlotte.”
“What a different Steve has made to this team,” said WYPALL Wipers crew chief representative and FOX/Speed analyst Jeff Hammond. “He consistently coached his driver through this race demonstrating strong communication, not only today but all season. He’s helped bring back Junior’s competitive side.”
WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief Results
Steve Addington, Kurt Busch and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil team finished 18th after being in contention most of the day and leading 19 laps.
“My car was really fast all day getting pushed,” said Busch. “It was just a case of being too tight following and too loose leading. Once I had to push, the car didn’t seem as stable as I needed it to be. It was frustrating. We ran up front most of the day and didn’t get the finish I think that we deserved.”
Paul Wolfe and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge of Brad Keselowski were involved in a multi-car incident on lap 90, causing them to finish a disappointing 33rd. Keselowski started from the 19th position and worked his way to the front and led two laps.
“It was just one of those Talladega deals,” said Keselowski. “We were able to get our Dodges together and drive our way up to the front. We made some great moves, but got towards the back in the shuffle and when we did, we caught a big group that just stopped for some reason. We ran up on the group and I just wasn’t able to stop quickly enough with Kurt (Busch) on my tail and it just spun me right out. It’s just racing. I just got on the wrong end of it.”
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.