Monday, May 15, 2017

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

by Stacey Owens

If you're a crew chief, some days you define the strategy. Other days, that strategy is defined for you. That may have been the case at the Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway this weekend.

With only eight sets of tires available for each team, crew chiefs had to be judicious about changing them during pit stops. Cole Pearn, crew chief for Martin Truex Jr., eventually used every set allotted to the No. 78 team.

"Yeah, I think the tough thing tonight was we only had eight sets of tires and just picking when you wanted to put them on was probably the trickiest thing as far as strategywise goes," Pearn said. "Yeah, you could make a small gain earlier by maybe coming and pitting or staying out, and you just had to make sure, and we ended up using every one of them, so it was -- I think that was definitely a tricky element with all those cautions."

And there were a ton of cautions -- 15 to be exact. Multiple cautions means multiple, and possibly frenetic, restarts. Truex was one of several cars that had been competitive throughout the evening, so he was among several up front for those restarts.

"There was a lot of cars -- 21, 4, 18 -- all those guys were really quick," Pearn said. "... run to run, depending on who was where and stuff like that, there was definitely some stiff competition.
           
"Really it just came down to those restarts at the end. We really weren't in the best positions at times. I think we restarted ninth one time, and we were fourth by the first turn, which was huge to get back into it after we had a lug nut fall off on a pit stop.
           
"It felt like one of those nights where we were doomed to give it away at some point, and it didn't happen. Fifteen cautions here is just crazy. It was a wild night out there, but I think it's just a product of the racetrack come of age. You've got multiple grooves out there, and guys really pushed the limit. It made for great racing."

Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs
Team owner Barney Visser commented after the race that any track west of the Mississippi River feels like a home track for the Denver-based Furniture Row team. Now that they have garnered a "home track" win, it's time to head east again where the team was fairly dominant last season. Pearn talked about the next stretch of the schedule.

"I feel like this is like just a strong part of the schedule for us. I look back at the last two years, and I think from the Kansas, Charlotte, Dover, Pocono, Michigan are all really strong tracks for us, and ... we circle that time frame to know that's our shot to capitalize, just because that's where we've typically run strong. I don't know, you've got to continue to evolve, though. Last year is last year. That was an unbelievable night, an unbelievable accomplishment. But this field is so tough, and you just never know. Two weeks from now could be a totally different pecking order in the competition, so you've just got to stay with it, and hopefully we're in a good spot when we get to the [Coca-Cola] 600.

Something tells me they're already in that good spot.

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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; Kentucky basketball, even though at 6' tall, she's never played a day in her life; and her husband who's supportive of her NASCAR obsession and tunes in with her every week... even if it's just to watch the flyover.
 

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