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Cole Pearn to honor late friend with fundraiser for family next month in Toronto

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A testimonial to Cole Pearn’s best friend, who unexpectedly passed away in early August, as well as a fundraiser for his family will be held Friday, Jan. 5, at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Pearn’s lifelong friend, Jacob Damen, died unexpectedly after contracting a fast-moving bacterial infection on August 3.

Pearn, crew chief for the 2017 NASCAR Cup championship for Furniture Row Racing, will oversee the gala event, which will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. ET.

The evening will also include an appearance by 2017 NASCAR Cup champion Martin Truex Jr., silent and live auctions, the opportunity to meet both Pearn and Truex and other events.

All net proceeds from the evening will be given to the Damen Family Fund.

“We miss our buddy Jacob dearly,” Pearn said in a media release. “We all have family and friends that fill a space in our hearts that is irreplaceable.

“Jacob filled the hearts of his wife Carolyn, his sons Lucas and Nolan, his parents Jerry and Kim Damen, twin brother Tyler, sister Julia and countless friends.

“We are going to celebrate his life at the perfect spot, the Hockey Hall of Fame, to support his beautiful wife Carolyn and the two boys, Lucas and Nolan. I can’t wait to get home to celebrate with everyone.”

Click here for more details and to purchase tickets to the ‘Jacob Damen Friend and Fan Remembered’ event.

Will Canada honor Cole Pearn like it does its NHL players? And would he bring the NASCAR Cup?

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Cole Pearn is the first Canadian-born crew chief to win a NASCAR Cup championship.

Which got us thinking …

Pearn is a native of Strathroy-Caradoc, Canada, near London (Ontario, not England). He grew up following both racing and, quite naturally, hockey (he’s a huge Toronto Maple Leafs fan, but has also come to follow the Colorado Avalanche, given that Furniture Row Racing’s headquarters is in suburban Denver). Heck, he still plays hockey himself in a weekly Denver recreation league.

As is a longtime NHL tradition, many players grow playoff beards for good luck en route to what they hope will end with a Stanley Cup championship, That kind of tradition rubbed off on Pearn, 35, who also grew a beard leading up to the Cup championship.

Ok, so that’s at least one thing he has in common with his Canadian-born NHL brethren.

Now, how about another NHL-like tradition for Pearn?

During the offseason, players on every NHL Stanley Cup-winning team get an opportunity to bring the Stanley Cup to their hometown for a day or two of celebration on their home turf, where it all began for them. It can be anywhere in the U.S., Canada or even Russia.

While we haven’t heard of a “Cole Pearn Day” being organized yet north of the border, wouldn’t it be cool to see him take the 65-lb. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup back home to celebrate his championship – Stanley Cup-style?

After all, Pearn and Truex and the rest of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team have been big news in the great white north, and have developed quite the loyal Canadian fan base.

“It’s been pretty neat, all the coverage we’ve gotten national media-wise in Canada,” Pearn said this past week in Las Vegas.

“It’s hard if you’re not a hockey player to get much attention there, so it’s pretty neat how much they’ve embraced it and embraced the sport, and deservingly so,” Pearn said.

While hockey is the undisputed king in Canada, racing – stock car, sports car and drag racing – are among the country’s other top sports.

“There’s tremendous racing there,” Pearn said of his native land. “The short track scene in Canada is awesome, that’s what I grew up in. To get that coverage and get the sport covered there is really cool.”

To show how big Pearn and Truex’s championship has been in Canada, check out a video of Pearn’s interview (starts about 17 minutes in) with Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole of Canada’s The Sports Network, the day after the No. 78 team won the Cup crown.

So we started thinking again … wouldn’t it be a great promotion and publicity for NASCAR if Pearn went back home for a day or two — and he brought NASCAR’s version of the Stanley Cup with him? Heck, maybe even take a few side trips to Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, even Vancouver. He’s earned it, not to mention Canada has a lot of NASCAR fans who would probably like to share the celebration with him.

Pearn and Truex captured the NASCAR Cup championship one week before one of Canada’s biggest sports days of the year, the annual Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup championship (Toronto upset Calgary on Nov. 26). Toronto already had a big downtown celebration for its championship Argonauts this past Tuesday.

So hey, Strathroy-Caradoc — or even the big city a few miles down the road, London — how about a championship parade and a “Cole Pearn Day” for your native son?

Cup championship crew chiefs worried about tire allotment in Miami

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A 2015 Cup championship trophy sits in crew chief Adam Stevens’ office so he can see it every day.

“I kind of like to be reminded every time I come to work what we’re racing for and what the hard work we put in day in and day out and night in and night out and through all the grind of the season what it’s all for,’’ Stevens said.

He seeks another championship trophy with his driver, Kyle Busch, among the four racing for a title in Sunday’s season finale in Miami (3 p.m. ET, NBC).

The challenge for Busch and Stevens will be more than Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski for the championship. Stevens and other crew chiefs are concerned about the tire limits this weekend.

Cup teams will be allowed nine sets for the race plus the set they use in qualifying. Last year, teams had 12 sets available plus they could also use a set from practice.

Fewer sets of tires could mean more difficult decisions for crew chiefs, especially if there are a number of cautions.

“I think it changes a lot,’’ said Rodney Childers, crew chief for Kevin Harvick.

Kevin Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)

Childers noted that in 2014 when he and Harvick won the title, they used 11 sets of tires in the 400-mile race.

“I don’t feel like there’s enough tires,’’ Childers said of the allotment for Sunday’s race. “The last thing you want to do is run out of tires with 40 laps to go and not be able to do anything or race for a championship at the end. I’ve been trying to push a little bit, see if we can’t get an extra set for the race.’’

Teams were allowed fewer tires in half of the playoff races this season compared to last year. NASCAR cut allotments for some races after examining tire usage by teams with Goodyear. NASCAR sought to have the number of sets available closer to what had been used in previous races.

The concern among crew chiefs is that tires could be critical because how much they wear at Homestead-Miami  Speedway. Greg Stucker, Goodyear director of racing, notes that the track has become one of the highest wear tracks on the circuit.

That’s just one of many concerns crew chiefs have entering the weekend. Paul Wolfe, crew chief for Brad Keselowski, has additional worries. His team has struggled to find speed in the playoffs. Keselowski has finished ahead of Truex twice in the first nine playoff races but neither were at 1.5-mile speedways, the length of Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Keselowski has been slower than Truex and Harvick in green flag speed and on restarts in all four of the playoff races on 1.5-mile tracks this season.

“We’ve just got to go down there and make speed,’’ Wolfe said. “That’s kind of as simple as it is. I feel good about what we’re bringing down there. I don’t know if it’ll be enough, but I’m proud of the effort that we’ve put in.’’

Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn arrive as what some will view as the favorite with seven victories this season, including six on 1.5-mile speedways. Pearn is fine with that role. It’s much better than in 2015, when the team entered the season finale as an underdog.

“I think at that point we were just thrilled to have made it, and I think we didn’t really know what to do,’’ he said. “It was like a dog chasing the car, we finally caught the car and we didn’t know what to do with it. 

“This past year and the year before we really tried to take more time and get ourselves prepared for Homestead itself. So I think, obviously, we won’t see that until this weekend, but it’s been in our mind for a long time, and really trying to get ourselves prepared for this race and probably have put more emphasis on it than we would have if we hadn’t have gone through what we did in 2015.’’

NASCAR America: It’s Scan All Texas, pardner

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They always seem to do things bigger in Texas, and this week’s edition of Scan All is no exception, with bigger action on the radio and TV.

Here’s some of the highlights:

  • “We have a different race track from last week, but the theme is the same: move it forward all day and put it where we need to be.” — Crew chief Jeremy Bullins to driver Ryan Blaney.
  • “I’ll see you down there in about 3 1/2 hours and get us a cowboy hat.” — Clayton Hughes, spotter for Martin Truex Jr.
  • “It’s not exactly what we wanted, but we’ll gather it up here.” Joey Meier, spotter for Brad Keselowski, after the first-lap contact between Keselowski and Kyle Busch.
  • “The goal is to not get crashed and not get lapped again.” — Crew chief Chad Knaus to Jimmie Johnson after the No. 48 went two laps down in the race.
  • Danica Patrick asked crew chief Billy Scott “How many laps is this race?” To which Scott replied, “334, so we’re about five laps past halfway.” Patrick responded, “Oh, geez.”
  • “Sorry I’m being all a negative Nancy out here, but it’s hot as (expletive).” — Danica Patrick on the high temperature in her car.
  • “We’re going to Miami, though. We’ll get ’em in two weeks.” — After Martin Truex Jr. finished second, crew chief Cole Pearn gave him the good news that he had qualified for the Championship 4 on points. “
  • “Damn, it’s good to be here in victory lane here in Texas.” — Race winner Kevin Harvick.

Check out Sunday’s best in the video above.

Cole Pearn laments over ‘worst week of my life,’ dedicates win to best friend

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Cole Pearn went through the toughest week of his life, as he had to carry on his duties as crew chief for Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota, while thinking about the sudden death of his best friend, Jacob Damen.

Damen died Thursday from a fast-moving bacterial infection at the age of 35.

“It’s been probably the hardest week of my life,” Pearn said after Truex won Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen. “It’s still … it’s not over yet.  I lost my best friend growing up this week.  He caught a random bacterial infection from a cut and basically died in a day.

“It’s not like he was sick. I talked to him the day before. They were coming to Michigan next weekend. So just doesn’t seem real still. He’s got two little boys that are not going to know their dad pretty much. We’ll get through it as a group. We were lucky to have an unbelievable friend support and family around that will make sure everybody is all right.”

When asked to describe Damen, Pearn said, “(He) was a heart‑of‑gold guy that. I don’t know. I still haven’t come to terms with it, to be honest.”

Pearn dedicated the win to Damen, and planned to fly Sunday night back home to Strathroy-Caradoc, Ontario in Canada to attend Thursday’s funeral.

“It was about the worst week of my life so far,” Pearn told NBCSN. “To be able to win this for you, Jake, is just unbelievable.

“It’s going to be a tough week, but at least we’ll all be together,” Pearn said. “It just seems surreal. The whole week hasn’t seemed real and hasn’t yet. I can’t wait to get back home tonight to see everybody this week will make it a lot better to deal with.”

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