Monday, October 3, 2016

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Citizen Soldier 400 Winning Crew Chief, Cole Pearn

by Stacey Owens

Having a productive month at work? If you've performed well, chances are likely that your boss will give you a bonus. That's exactly how the No. 78 team is viewing their second Chase win at Dover International Speedway: It's a bonus.

Crew chief Cole Pearn was quick to point out that Martin Truex Jr. didn't really need to win since he had already advanced to the Round of 12 with his win at Chicagoland Speedway. At the same time, it's always nice to visit Victory Lane.

"Yeah, I mean, this was kind of a bonus win really. We didn't need it at all, but you're never going to turn them down," Pearn said. "We had a really good car today. I think the 48 was equally as good as us, and we were going to definitely have to battle them the rest of the race. And we were fortunate they had a penalty, and we didn't have any issues and we didn't make any mistakes, and no cautions. It really wasn't too difficult of a strategy at that point. Just, again, happy to get another win, and at the end of the day, it all resets next week, and none of this really matters."

Credit: Beth Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs
Aside from concerns about strategy and mistakes, Pearn had one primary concern -- the possibility of a caution and what a rebound for the No. 48 team could mean for his driver.

"Really the biggest thing we were concerned about was where the 48 was, because we knew if he was able to get the Lucky Dog or get back on the lead lap, that's who we were going to be racing. They really drew our focus, and we kind of focused on what they were doing and kind of called the race off their decisions.          

"Definitely I know in the grand scheme it looked like we kind of walked the dog there a bit, but at the end of the day, caution comes, 48 is back on the lead lap, you've got to decide whether you're going to pit or not. A lot of things can happen at that point. We tried to keep them a lap down," Pearn said.

As the laps wound down, the No. 78 team was able to hold Johnson down a lap. In fact, they were able to hold most the of field down by at least a lap. Johnson was the first car one lap down, and he finished in seventh place.

Credit: Beth Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs
Pearn's setup on Truex's car was nothing short of exceptional. For most of a green-flag run, Truex was able to hold a 12-second lead over his closest competitor. How was Pearn able to set up the car and allow his driver to dominate in such grand fashion?

"I don't know. I don't think it's any one thing for sure. We've got a strong team, and we didn't make it to Homestead last year for no reason. I really feel like we're in better equipment this year.
            
"We just really had a flawless day. We're hitting on all cylinders right now. Every track we go to, even the tracks we haven't been good in the past, we've been pretty good at ... and Dover for that matter has been a strong suit for us the last three years. Even in 2014 when we were struggling, we ran good here. We really feel like we've got a good handle on this place," Pearn explained.
Credit: Beth Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs
Truex now has four wins this season. With this second Chase win, does Pearn think they may have peaked too soon?

"I don't know. I mean, you're not going to say no. I mean, maybe we have, I don't know," he said. "I still feel like we've been good all year, so I don't really know how you can say we've peaked too early. At the end of the day, this was kind of an icing-on-the-cake win. We didn't need it per se, but you're not going to turn it down. Martin has had a lot of wins taken away from him in his career, so to be able to make up for lost time in a way is good. You've just got to keep it rolling. We didn't do anything extravagant today. We brought a good car, we made solid pit stops, we never made any mistakes, and we won, so you're not going to knock that strategy at all."

There are now 11 other crew chiefs who want to follow that strategy and find themselves in Victory Lane at least once over the next three weeks. Which one will be next?

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     Stacey Owens lives just outside Music City USA. She's always wanted to be a NASCAR writer, so working as a columnist and support editor for Skirts and Scuffs allows her to live that dream every single weekend.
    The sole NASCAR enthusiast in her home, she's hopeful that one of her three daughters might also harbor an appreciation for NASCAR, but it isn't looking good so far.
    This self-admitted grammar nerd also loves country music, though she can't carry a tune; collegiate football, though she needs a lot of work on her spiral; and Kentucky basketball, even though at 6' tall, she's never played a day in her life.

 


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