Right Sides Only: Notes from the First Data 500 Winning Crew Chief, Cole Pearn

by Stacey Owens

Even after the race, Cole Pearn was still scratching his head, wondering how he and Martin Truex Jr. had already punched their ticket to the 2019 season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway.

"Yeah, I don't even know what to say. Yeah, that was -- I still don't feel like I've woken up today. I'm not sure how we did that to be honest. I haven't quite processed it. Pretty cool to be, yeah, going to Homestead. I think four of the last five years for us, and this is the first time we've ever been locked in this early. Haven't quite processed it all," Pearn said.

Being locked into the championship race can present teams with varying ways to prepare for the final showdown. Kyle Busch famously said that being the first one locked into the final race essentially gives a team a "hall pass" for two weeks. How will getting locked in so early affect Cole Pearn and his preparation for the races in Texas and Phoenix?

"I've heard everybody talk about it, we've just never lived it until this year. Just going to enjoy this today, and then yeah, we'll get to work. We've kind of been working on Homestead already, but now we'll be able to kind of dive into it deeper.  It's going to be a challenging year. I think every Homestead, we've never gone through a big rules change like we're going to experience this time. Usually you're able to work on last year's notes and things like that, and this year that's not the case.  You're going to a track for the first time with this rules package and you've got two 50-minute practices to figure it out. We can work all we want on it, but to know exactly what we want to do is still a bit of a guess.

"I think we're fortunate the next two weeks we're going back to tracks for the second time, so that makes it a little bit easier to prepare. I feel like Texas we struggled but we know where we kind of went wrong there the first time, so definitely optimistic for there. I think that's definitely a bit of a wild card with such low falloff and hard tires. It's going to be kind of a strategy game, how you shake out on that side of it. But feel really good about Phoenix. We finished second there in the spring and really kind of hit on some stuff that helped us the rest of the season. Definitely optimistic going there.
"Yeah, I mean, it's still a NASCAR Cup Series, so if you have an opportunity to win, you want to go do it and do it for everybody on our team and our partners, so yeah, we're still going to try hard the next two weeks.  But yeah, obviously Homestead is going to be important," Pearn explained.
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Short-track racing in Martinsville has always presented its own challenges, but this weekend's race was different in that it was designed to end under the lights. How were the cars affected when the sun went down?

"I don't think we've ever had it that warm and then cool down like that. This track is so temperature sensitive it's hard to manage, but we kind of had a plan going into it and just stuck with it as it went, and it seemed to work out okay. I'll be curious to go back and look and see what the other guys fought in that transition and what they did to handle it. Obviously from our side, I feel like we did pretty good, so yeah, it's a bit of a challenge. We weren't really sure what to expect early on with it being so hot," Pearn said.

Looking back on the team's wins this season, Truex has driven to Victory Lane in Las Vegas and Charlotte. Pearn talked about his outlook for Homestead.

"Yeah, I think Homestead is a little bit of an unknown, but it's definitely a lower grip track, so I feel like for Martin and our program, that falls into our wheelhouse. But it's going to be tough. It's going to be a battle of being good on the short run versus the long run and how that plays out for you. You're going to have to go and make your bed and hopefully it's going to be your day. It's crazy it can come down to that, but I think this year more than ever with these rules, it's going to be that way," Pearn explained.


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... as long as she allows him to obsess over UT college football every fall.


Right Sides Only: Notes from the First Data 500 Winning Crew Chief, Cole Pearn Right Sides Only: Notes from the First Data 500 Winning Crew Chief, Cole Pearn Reviewed by Stacey Owens on Monday, October 28, 2019 Rating: 5