Monday, March 13, 2017

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


by Stacey Owens

Practice makes perfect, right? Well, according to Cole Pearn, the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops Tracker Boats Toyota should have been perfect, because their practice wasn't.

"Didn't really know what to expect today," Pearn said. "Wasn't terribly happy with our car yesterday in practice, even though we cut a lap, and we were fast, and I didn't think our long-run speed was very good. So we changed a lot going into today and didn't really know what to expect. But obviously we felt like we went the right direction. Obviously we did. Pit crew was unbelievable today. They pretty much had a flawless day and really helped us get the lead a couple times, and man, I don't know, it just worked out."

Even with the so-so practice, Truex Jr. started on the outside pole and led a race-high 150 laps. On the way to leading that many laps, Truex became the first driver since the introduction of stages this season to sweep the first two stages and win the race.

Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs

As well as his driver performed during the race, Pearn wasn't confident of a win, especially since Keselowski took over as the laps wound down at Las Motor Speedway.

"Yeah, we were kind of struggling that run. Our track bar motor quit running the stop before, and we kind of had it down a lot. For the run before we had kind of gotten loose, and obviously new tires we were back too much on the tight side for that last run. But we just plugged away, and we've been on the losing side of those kind of finishes a lot, so to be on the winning side is pretty awesome," Pearn said.

Part of a crew chief's job, in addition to leading the team and calling the shots on pit road, is to encourage his driver or rally his pit crew. Still other times, he must simply be realistic about the team's shortcomings.

"... when we lost the lead, Brad was really good on the long run, and it kind of had shaken out, I don't know if we would have had a shot. But we just had to keep trying and keep him honest, and don't give it to him by any means," Pearn said.
 
"We were fortunate to have another pit stop there with the caution. And we almost beat them out of the pits. Our pit crew was pretty much on it all day, so we had a shot out there, but kind of on the track bar, motor was out. I was a little bit pessimistic about our chances. But maybe if we had cleared him and had clean air on the nose, we could have brought it home a lot cleaner."

Turns out, there was no reason for him to worry. Truex drove his Toyota Camry to his first win of the season as cars crashed behind him. Practice may not have gone as Pearn would have liked, but starting from the outside pole, leading the most laps, winning both stages and the race -- as well as earning a perfect 50 points -- isn't a bad way to push one's luck in Las Vegas.

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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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