NASCAR America: Martin Truex Jr., Cole Pearn belong together

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Tuesday’s announcement that Furniture Row Racing will close its doors at the end of the 2018 season started a game of musical chairs.

“This could be one of the craziest silly seasons we’ve had in a long time,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said on Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America.

That announcement also began the conversation of the likelihood that Martin Truex Jr. and Cole Pearn will go to the same organization.

One of the most successful pairings in recent NASCAR history that has produced 17 wins and a championship could come to an end – or the sum of the parts might be too valuable for prospective owners to overlook.

“I think that you want to keep them together and I think they would like to stay together,” Earnhardt said. “They complement each other really well.

“A lot of people are going to think that Cole Pearn is maybe a bigger piece of that puzzle, but I would think that would be maybe underestimating Martin Truex Jr. and what he brings to the table as a driver.”

Pearn and Truex had success from the beginning. After finishing eighth in the 2015 Daytona 500 in their first race together, they scored 13 top 10s in the next 14 attempts, including Truex’s third career victory in the June 2015 Pocono race.

“One of the difficulties between drivers and crew chiefs is in finding out what a driver likes,” Earnhardt said. “And Cole knows those things. He can go, no matter where they go … he can go right in those organizations and build a car around Martin Truex Jr. that is going to be competitive right out of the gate.”

MORE: Furniture Row Racing’s demise leaves lingering questions 

In the past couple of days, multiple reports have circulated that Truex and Pearn could land at Joe Gibbs Racing in the No. 19 that was vacated by Carl Edwards at the end of the 2016 season.

That would leave current driver Daniel Suarez’s future uncertain, but it would be a good fit for Truex and Pearn, according to Earnhardt.

“If they end up at Gibbs, they know (Pearn) pretty well, they know what they’re getting.” Earnhardt said.

When the Truex/Pearn domino falls, several more will follow.

“It’s going to be interesting where Martin ends up – where Cole ends up,” Earnhardt said. “But what dominoes is this going to knock down? We‘ll have to understand what that does mean for Daniel and beyond. Because we’re hearing rumblings in the garage of other driver changes.”

For more, watch the videos above.

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NASCAR mourns Kobe Bryant

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Joining their brethren in other sports, the NASCAR world took to social media upon learning the tragic news of the death of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, killed Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

Bryant had met a number of NASCAR drivers in his career, including Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano. They were among a number of NASCAR notables who took to social media to mourn Bryant:

 

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Chad Knaus and wife expecting second child

Photo courtesy Brooke Knaus official Instagram account
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Seven-time NASCAR Cup champion crew chief Chad Knaus and wife Brooke are expecting their second child.

Brooke made the announcement Saturday on her Instagram account.

The couple, already parents to one-year-old son Kip, will soon be adding a daughter to their growing family.

Brooke Knaus’s Instagram post said the baby is due in July.

Kip figured prominently in the baby revelation, coming at the end of mom and dad’s ski run while vacationing in Telluride, Colorado:

 

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Kyle Larson flips, misses finals of Australia’s biggest sprint car race

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Kyle Larson’s hope of following up last week’s Chili Bowl win with a triumph in Australia’s prestigious Grand Annual Sprint Car Classic fell far short Sunday.

Larson’s bid to race his way into the 24-car finals of the three-day race at Premier Speedway in Warrnambool, Australia, ended when he flipped (uninjured) on the opening lap of a last-chance qualifying heat race earlier in the evening.

Instead of being one of the featured drivers in the Classic’s 40-lap finale – the largest and most popular sprint car race of the year in the land down under – Larson was left to watch the event from the pits and cheer on Dyson Motorsport teammate and fellow American Carson Macedo.

Even that didn’t go very well, as Macedo flipped his own sprint car on the first lap of the Classic, resulting in a last-place finish. The highest finishing American was Cory Eliason, who ended up fourth.

Meanwhile, it was an all-Australian podium, with James McFadden winning the Classic for the second time in his career, followed by James Veal and Kerry Madsen.

In eight days, Larson went from capturing what he called the biggest win ever of his racing career on all levels – the Chili Bowl in his 13th try last Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma – to nothing but bad luck and utter frustration throughout his Australian journey.

Larson’s first race on Wednesday in the King’s Challenge at Borderline Speedway was rained out.

Then, in the first night of the Classic on Friday, Larson wrecked heavily in his first heat race, including flipping (he was uninjured). After his team repaired his car, Larson went back on the track, only to suffer a blown engine that knocked him out of contention to race in that evening’s feature event.

After not being on the schedule to race in Night 2 of the Classic on Saturday, Larson had one last chance to make Sunday’s featured championship event.

A total of 80 drivers battled it out in the B, C and D Mains for the eight remaining spots in the A Main, but Larson would end up not being one of those — as can be seen in the second line of the following tweet by his team:

Larson now returns to the United States to prepare for the Daytona 500 on February 16.

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Kyle Busch feeling like ‘the new guy’ during his Rolex 24 debut at Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kyle Busch was looking forward to his first stint at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The two-time Cup champion was less enthused about his second turn behind the wheel in the IMSA season opener. Busch will climb back into the No. 14 Lexus RCF GT3 at 2 a.m. Sunday, just past the midpoint of the endurance race classic at Daytona International Speedway.

“That’s going to suck, yeah,” Busch deadpanned. “That’s exactly when I told them I did not want to run, and I got it.  Thank you very much.

“(I’m) the new guy.  I pulled the short straw.”

Click here to read more about how Busch felt about his AIM Vasser Sullivan car.