NASCAR — crew chief Cole Pearn lives unlikely dream

NASCAR


HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Cole Pearn isn’t sure what he will wear to the NASCAR Cup awards ceremony next week.

The Martin Truex Jr. crew chief is known for wearing a team t-shirt throughout race weekends. He doesn’t wear a firesuit, which is often the uniform of choice of other crew chiefs.

So does he actually have to get dressed up for the Nov. 30 ceremony?

“I think a tuxedo with a T-shirt would be appropriate,” Pearn said with a laugh. “I don’t ever plan on catching on fire, so I don’t get why those guys wear firesuits. I just want to look cool, I guess.”

Pearn is a pretty cool customer, and his cool factor now includes a NASCAR Cup title with Truex, who won the Ford 400 on Sunday to capture the championship.

He took over the Truex team in 2015, and he has combined with Truex for 13 wins and now one title.

Not bad for a mechanic from Canada working on a team based in Colorado.

“I’m 35 years old and I’ve raced every year of my life since I was 6 years old, and I spent every year of my life before that going to watch my dad at the racetrack. … I never would have dreamed that this would have been possible, especially growing up where I did in Canada,” Truex said.

“That’s kind of unheard of to break into a predominantly southern sport and then to do it as a team in Colorado and win a championship.”

Pearn and Truex clicked because of similar styles. They’re both fairly laid-back and handle things in stride. And they both have confidence in each other.

So Truex didn’t question when Pearn decided to go off the strategy of Kyle Busch, who appeared to have a better car and planned to do only one fuel stop during the final stage of Sunday’s race. Pearn decided Truex would do two fuel stops.

The cautions ended up falling their way, forcing everyone to come into the pits with about 35 laps remaining and Truex in the lead.

“I had it in my head,” Pearn said. “We hadn’t talked about it a lot, and kind of realized in a split‑second way that that was what we were going to have to do to be something different.”

All Truex knows is they work well together because they have the respect of each other. Not just the two of them, but the entire crew and organization.

“We’re a bunch of misfits, but we get along, and we love racing and we work hard,” Truex said. “We have a lot of confidence in each other and what they’re doing, and we all do our own thing, and it works.”

Xfinity Series: Big win for Custer

Cole Custer earned his first career Xfinity victory by dominating the season finale.

Knocked out of championship contention the week earlier, Custer will use the win as a boost for a 2018 championship run.

The victory also was big for Stewart-Haas Racing to get a win with the team it started in the offseason.

“This whole year we’ve had so much speed, it’s just what can happen during the race or how the track is going to change or just what’s going to go wrong,” Custer said.

“I think we really did a good job this weekend trying to get our car to race good and trying to just — comfortable to drive and move around a little bit, so I think that’s the biggest thing that we tried to do. … It’s a perfect way to end the season.”

Custer wasn’t the only rookie on the team. He had a rookie crew chief in Jeff Meendering this year.

“It sends a statement to everybody what hopefully they can look forward to next year with this team,” team co-owner Tony Stewart said. “I’m proud of these guys, and I think it’s obviously a perfect way to go in the offseason for these guys.

“Man, it just really makes me wish we could have got through Phoenix last week because he would have had a shot for sure of winning a championship. I’m just really proud of him.”

Camping World Truck Series: BKR ends in big way

Brad Keselowski Racing ended the 2017 season and its existence with Chase Briscoe winning the finale. Austin Cindric couldn’t match the magic as he finished fifth, third among the championship finalists.

BKR is closing shop, which means that Briscoe’s winning truck already has a price tag on it, so the driver might not get to keep his first career-winning truck.

“I’ve got to have a meeting with the financial team,” Keselowski said. “Once I see that red number I might make a word I don’t want to make, but we’ll figure that one out as we go.”

Briscoe, a Ford development driver, has a ride for next season, but it has not been announced what he’s doing.

“You try to campaign for yourself and say that you can get it done, but when you don’t have a win to count for it, it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day,” Briscoe said. “So, I think tonight was definitely a big momentum boost for me. It definitely doesn’t hurt.”

Cindric said his ability to not be afraid to mix it up with other drivers should help him as he seeks a ride for next year.

“Anyone who is a team owner wants someone who will put it all on the line for a race win, for a championship, for the team,” Cindric said.

“To be able to look at a guy and say, ‘Well, he just does a solid job’ — no, I want a guy that does everything in his power for his team, his sponsors and everybody that supports it.”



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