It was the pit call that surprised the NASCAR world and put a wrench in the plans of Kevin Harvick‘s team Sunday at Sonoma Raceway.
After multiple laps of telling Martin Truex Jr. to pit on Lap 73 and with his pit crew waiting on the pit wall, crew chief Cole Pearn told his driver not to pit at the last moment, as race leader Harvick committed to pit road.
It resulted in Truex pitting eight laps later, giving him fresher tires to catch and pass Harvick and the other leaders to earn the win.
On NASCAR America, Steve Letarte and Dale Jarrett discussed how such a move worked.
“The best way to fool with your pit crew is fool everyone,” Letarte said. “Tell everyone you’re going to come to pit road, even your own driver Martin Truex Jr. and it really came down to this: If you pit with 38, 39 laps to go, you’re going to have to come and get one more pit stop, one more splash of gas or some tires. That was the question: who was going to do what?”
Truex said after the race he was going to do whatever Pearn told him to do. Letarte said that kind of trust is essential if Furniture Row Racing wants a second championship.
“There’s not enough time in these races to have explanations,” Letarte said. “You heard what Martin Truex Jr. had to say, it’s ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ I give a direct answer and I’m off the radio, back to driving the race car. He says ‘pit,’ I’m going to pit. He’s says ‘we’re not pitting’, I just stay on the race track. Blind belief in that person on top of the pit pox, that is what must happen for a team to go win a championship.”
Watch the videos above and below for more.