Roswell, GA (June 22, 2011) – Mike Ford, crew chief for the No. 11 Fed Ex Toyota driven by Denny Hamlin, has been named the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race following Sunday’s Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400.
Hamlin was in second when the day’s final caution came out with just nine laps remaining. With track position critical at this point in the race, Ford originally made the decision for four tires for what would be the last pit stop, but in a last minute call, decided to go with two only, in an effort to beat out the other front-runners. The outstanding pit stop allowed Hamlin to restart from the front of the pack and grab the lead once the green flag fell. Holding off second-place Matt Kenseth and teammate Kyle Busch, Hamlin scored his first victory of the 2011 season.
From the get-go, the Ford-led team tackled the weekend with drive and determination. Qualifying in the tenth position, Hamlin battled with an ill-handling car, but Ford and crew made the right adjustments to get their driver up front. The flawless pit stops and instructions from atop the box help push Hamlin to victory.
“For a team that was expected to be a front-runner for the championship, this hasn’t been the easiest season so far,” said WYPALL Wipers crew chief representative and FOX/Speed analyst Jeff Hammond. “But Mike came to Michigan with a positive attitude that he poured into his crew and driver as well. His critical and calculated call at the end of the race made the difference, earning them the victory.”
WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief Results Steve Addington, Kurt Busch and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil team had a great run, starting from the pole, and then settling for 11th at the end of the day.
“It was really a seesaw day for us,” Busch said. “It seemed like our car would be good for the first five laps of a green flag run, and then once the track would rubber-in, we just couldn’t get the grip we needed. You need a good racecar, solid pit stops and good changes to keep up with the track and we just were too inconsistent today. A solid points day for us and that’s important in the big picture.”
“We were just off a little in every area here today,” Addington added. “We have to get better with our adjustments made during the race and we need to be able to capitalize better on having that pit spot up there at the end of pit road. We’ll analyze everything that happened here this weekend and try to learn from it and improve from it.”
Paul Wolfe and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge of Brad Keselowski finished a disappointing 25th after battling tight-handling conditions. Then on lap 81, Keselowski made contact with the outside wall in the middle of Turns 1 and 2. Just three laps later, his right-front tire went flat, sending him into the wall.
“Obviously we had a poor qualifying effort that forced us to start at the rear of the field,” said Keselowski. “Once the green flag flew, our Miller Lite Dodge was a rocket. We were able to make our way up the field and raced as high as 18th. I was just trying to move around on the racetrack, trying to get us to where we needed to be. I just pushed too hard and hit the wall and that led to a flat tire that totally changed our day. From there, our day went downhill and we just had to battle. Later in the day, we started to make our car right and had an opportunity to make a good run out of it and get a good finish, but we had some engine issues on the restart. It’s tough. This track and race means so much to me. I really wanted to have good run and we just didn’t make it happen today.”
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 SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) 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.