The Furniture Row Racing team celebrated its third win of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season — this time on a road course, and through a little trickery by its crew chief, Cole Pearn.
The dominant car all day wasn’t the No. 78, but rather Kevin Harvick’s No. 4. In fact, it’s been the No. 4 for the majority of the races in 2018. The No. 78 crew chief, Cole Pearn gambled to get the No. 4 off their game — telling Truex to pit, but ultimately having Truex stay out seven more laps. The No. 4 pitted and allowed Truex to have fresher tires for the end of the road course race.
Truex said he lets Pearn make the calls and Truex just drives the car.
“Cole and I have a great relationship,” Truex said.
“I never question him when he’s calling races, and when he has things going on when he’s talking to me in the car, it’s just, okay — it’s yes or no answers for me. So yeah, he told me to pit, and I was like, okay, I’m going to pit, and then he said, don’t pit, so I’m like, fine, I’m just going to stay out.”
The Furniture Row Racing driver said he realized that once the No. 4 pitted that they needed to maximize the time and not make mistakes while on older tires.
Martin Truex, Jr. wasn’t sure on what was going on when Pearn initially said to pit, but then to ultimately stay out.
“I just did what he said,” Truex said.
“Apparently, it was a bigger deal going on because everybody keeps asking me about it, so I’ll have to watch the race broadcast and look at Twitter.”
The Last 10 Laps
Truex said the last ten laps of the race were easy, but a little stressful.
“I was just hoping for no cautions because we had a big lead,” the No. 78 Toyota driver said.
“It’s funny when you get in those situations — this place is so tricky and so technical, but when you start to take care of your equipment and have time to think, it almost gets harder. You know, so it’s like, all right, just put laps together, let’s not make a mistake.”
He added that if you let your guard down at Sonoma Raceway, it’s easy to make a costly mistake.
“You can overshoot a corner real easy,” Truex said.
“So I just tried to back down my pace slightly, enough to make sure I wasn’t going to hurt any parts of my car, no chances of locking up a tire or breaking a tranny or going off course or anything like that. But I still ran as hard as I thought I needed to.”
The No. 78 Cup driver said you’re always a little stressed, as you never know exactly what’s going to happen.
“…but it all worked out, and pretty cool to get the win here today after last year,” he said.
“We thought a lot about that race last year, losing it, and it hurt. We left here and thought about it for a long time. To be able to come here and get it back was nice.”
Acknowledging the No. 4 Team’s Dominance
Truex acknowledged how things could have easily been different at the end of the race at Sonoma Raceway.
“Without the strategy, it was going to be a hell of a battle, I think, but just to race with those guys is awesome,” said Truex.
“Rodney and Kevin are amazing and they do a great job. Fun racing with them, and when you come out on top, you know you beat the best.”