Gibson wins Crew Chief of race award Amidst the media cloud and controversy that surrounded Dale Earnhardt Incorporated this week following the announcement of Dale Earnhardt Jr. moving to a new camp for 2008, the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet team was determined to prove they were still focused on giving solid performances. With their team leader, Tony Eury Jr., still serving the remainder of his suspension, it was left up to substitute crew chief, Tony Gibson, to lead the DEI team. Gibson rallied his crew during the Citizens Bank 400 at Michigan International Speedway while tending to front end damage and handling problems, enabling his team to finish strong, gaining a well-deserved fifth place finish. For his ability to keep the crew focused on the task at hand by providing solid race day leadership, Gibson was awarded the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race.
After starting from 23rd position for the 200-lap race, the No. 8 Budweiser team went looking for early track position during the first caution on lap 52. Gibson called for and was given a slick two-tire pit stop resulting in Earnhardt Jr. sitting in second place as the race went back to green. However, pressure built after the second caution on lap 69 as Earnhardt Jr. ran over debris resulting in some front-end damage to the Chevrolet, giving the car major handling problems. Gibson was able to calm his crew and with a caution on lap 76, the team was able to fix the problem within three separate pit stops. With the handling problem mended, Gibson returned to the task of getting the No. 8 to the front. As the field cycled through green flag pit stops on lap 117, Earnhardt Jr. went to the lead and picked up the valuable five-point bonus. Gibson and his crew were able to maintain a strong position for the remainder of the race, finishing the day with their second top-five for the season.
At the conclusion of the race, Gibson was able to explain the mid-race problems the team faced. “We started out very loose and hoped that the heat of the day would tighten the car over time,” said Gibson. “The eight car ran over something when exiting the pits and damaged the front end. Fortunately for us, a caution came out and the crew was able to fix the problem in a couple of stops."
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