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Martin Truex Jr. charges to second place in Coke 600 despite pit issues

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CONCORD, N.C. — The only reason Martin Truex Jr. didn’t get a shot at celebrating his second Coca-Cola 600 win was because the guy who finished in front of him – Kyle Busch – was “flawless.”

That’s how Truex’s crew chief, Cole Pearn, described Busch’s night.

Truex’s 600 miles were anything but.

The No. 78 Toyota finished second in Sunday night’s race despite qualifying 15th and suffering consecutive pit road penalties, for speeding on Lap 203 and an uncontrolled tire on Lap 227.

The speeding penalty came after Truex entered and exited the pits in second.

Then there was the pit guns.

Pearn told NBC Sports the team went through three pit guns during the 400-lap race. One mishap resulted in the second penalty.

“The gun screwed up on the right rear and the front (tire) changer left and left the tire sitting there, cause usually the rear carrier comes to get it,” Pearn said. “But we went through three guns tonight … The whole reason we got the uncontrolled tire was cause the gun screwed up.”

Truex said the pit gun problem was “one of those freak things” where it reversed on the changer as he was hitting the fifth lug nut and he had to manually switch it back.

The No. 78 also had one unsecured lug nut following the race.

Even with the issues, Truex said it was a “solid day overall” for his team, which earned its third consecutive top five.

As for the speeding penalty?

“I can’t wait to see the time,” Truex said. “It couldn’t have been much. But I just hit some of those bumps a little bit wrong and got going a little too fast and tapped the brake just a split second too late. I typically don’t get a lot of speeding penalties, so Cole won’t ride my butt too hard this week about it.”

Truex said his team “cleaned it up well” after that.

The final restart came with 93 laps to go and Truex restarting eighth. With 55 to go he was in second, but lost multiple spots during green flag stops.

But he was back in second with 34 to go.

That’s when Pearn and his team started “praying” for a restart.

“I thought we were really equal to them the last few runs of the race,” Pearn said. “It was just a matter of track position and chasing from behind.”

Two years after Truex led 392 laps to capture his Coke 600 win, Busch led 377 while sweeping all four stages.

It was also the first time Truex hadn’t led a lap in the race since 2014.

“At the end of the day, we ran second,” Truex said. “He kicked everybody’s tail. That’s just the way it goes.”

NASCAR takes the teeth out of Furniture Row’s massive power saw

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The use of a massive power saw that could have come from an overstock closet on the Death Star was an inventive way to fix Martin Truex Jr.‘s Toyota.

Perhaps too inventive for NASCAR.

After images and video of the saw in a pit stop went viral on social media during the April 29 race at Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR announced Wednesday that it was mandating teams “only use traditional battery-powered equipment to repair a vehicle on the service side of the pit wall,” including “reciprocating saws, rivet guns, screw guns and drills.”

Cole Pearn, Furniture Row Racing crew chief for Truex, took issue with the new rule via Twitter.

NASCAR declined comment on Pearn’s tweet.

Others couldn’t avoid having fun with it, though.

 

 

Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing earn Colorado Sportsperson, Team of the Year honors

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Martin Truex Jr. continues to rack up the honors.

The defending NASCAR Cup champion was named Friday as the 2017 Colorado Sportsperson of the Year by Mile High Sports magazine.

Truex’s photo is on the cover of the current Mile High Sports. He was also named Colorado’s “Fan Favorite” Athlete of the year in a fan vote on the magazine’s website, MileHighSports.com.

In addition, the magazine named Furniture Row Racing as Colorado Team of the Year. FRR president Joe Garone was a finalist for the magazine’s Executive of the Year.

“What Martin Truex Jr. and Furniture Row Racing did this year was not only unprecedented for the team and the state, but it was hands down the best sports story of the year,” Mile High Sports magazine editor-in-chief Doug Ottewill said in a media release. “What he had to go through personally, what the team had to overcome along the way – all of it made our choice for Sportsperson of the Year an easy one.

“This is our highest honor – the big one, the one that the likes of John Elway, Peyton Manning, Missy Franklin and Chauncey Billups have won – and it thrills me to be able to add Martin Truex Jr. to that list.”

Driver of the No. 78 FRR Toyota Camry, Truex earned a NASCAR Cup series-high eight wins, capped off with a win in the season-ending and championship-deciding race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

He also led virtually every major statistical category.

“Individual honors in a team sport are a result of the people you are surrounded with,” Truex said in a statement. “I feel blessed to be part of an outstanding organization led by our owner Barney Visser, team president Joe Garone and crew chief Cole Pearn.

“These honors represent the hard work by the talented individuals at our Denver race shop. I want to thank Mile High Sports and all our passionate Colorado race fans for the support they have given our team through the years.”

Furniture Row Racing, which calls the Denver, Colorado area home, is the only active NASCAR Cup team based west of the Mississippi River and 1,500 miles from the Charlotte, North Carolina area, where most NASCAR teams are based.

“I guess we have heard ’that’s impossible, you will never do that’ for the last time,” Visser said in a statement. “We are very proud of our Denver roots and to receive these prestigious awards in our home state makes it even more special.

“The Colorado fans have been loyal followers of our team and we are honored to bring a major championship to the state.”

The Colorado honors add to an already lengthy list of awards that Truex, Pearn and Furniture Row Racing have earned, including:

* Truex was recently named New Jersey Sportsperson of the Year.

* For the second consecutive year, Truex was named Eastern Motorsport Press Association Al Holbert Memorial National Driver of the Year.

* AutoWeek magazine named Truex Driver of the Year and Furniture Row Racing was named Team of the Year.

* NASCAR.com named Truex Driver of the Year, Pearn was named Crew Chief of the Year and Furniture Row Racing was named Team of the Year. Truex and longtime partner Sherry Pollex were also awarded Best Moment Off The Track.

* Truex and Pollex were awarded the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Myers Brothers Award.

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?