Ford wins Crew Chief of the Race award
The No. 11 FedEx Express Chevrolet team had a lot to celebrate at Richmond International Raceway. They finished 6th in the Chevy Rock & Roll 400, locked in third place for the Nextel Cup Chase and crew chief Mike Ford won the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race award. Ford once again displayed his calmness under pressure, after a pit road incident jolted the team’s run to a high placed finished.
With 170 laps remaining, all was smooth sailing for the Joe Gibbs Racing crew. Driver Denny Hamlin had led 17 laps and was sitting comfortably in second when the seventh caution flag waved for the evening. The four tire and fuel pit stop turned into anything but routine when Hamlin threw his water bottle out the window, hitting the Chevrolet’s kill switch. "I couldn't believe the situation we found ourselves in during that stop,” said Hamlin. “We went from 2nd to 21st in about three seconds. What are the chances of that happening? Mike came on the radio and calmed me down telling me that the race had 170 plus laps and to take my time picking through race traffic."
After a seemingly quiet first half of the 400-lap race, caution flags dominated the evening in Richmond. A total of 12 cautions and two red flags, stopping the race, hindered Ford’s plan for getting Hamlin to the front of the field. "After the stop where we had to re-fire the car, I was really concerned about making up all those positions under green flag conditions,” shared Ford. “The car seemed to perform better on long green runs, and the cautions just kept coming. The pit crew had great stops all night, and this team never gave up. Denny really drove the wheels off the No. 11 Chevrolet and stayed out of trouble."
A panel of voters, including a member of the local media, Kenny Francis, Tony Eury Jr., Robbie Reiser and a WYPALL* Wipers representative, were unanimous in selecting Ford as the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race. Reiser cast his vote for Ford, stating, "This race had a lot of additional pressure with the chase and all and they came back after losing all the positions with the problem in the pits. It is hard to overcome a problem here at Richmond and Mike's team hung tough and got the job done."
With four wins this season, Ford is now the clear leader in the overall standings for the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Year. Robbie Reiser is second, while Tony Eury Jr., Larry Carter, Bob Osborne, Donnie Wingo, and Chad Knaus are all tied for third, with two wins apiece. Pat Tryson, Jimmy Elledge, Tony Gibson, Steve Letarte, Mike Nelson, Darian Grubb, Alan Gustafson, Chip Bolin and Ryan Pemberton each have one win. At the end of the season, the crew chief with the most wins will receive $20,000 and be crowned WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Year