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November 14, 2018

Cole Pearn

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Cole Pearn, crew chief of the No.78 Bass Pro Shops 5‑Hour Energy Toyota. You guys are looking to become back‑to‑back champions. Talk about what it would mean to go out on top again in your final season with Furniture Row Racing.
COLE PEARN: Yeah, I can't really put into words. It's been an emotional time for all of us, and the fact to be able to go down there and have a shot at it and have a good shot at it, it means a lot. It's a sad time for all of us to kind of be going out as a group, but to go out that way would be unbelievable.

Q. Cole, obviously you've been through it before, the Championship 4, you got it done last year. What are your feelings going into this year that might be a little bit different versus last year?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, it's definitely a different feel. But I guess Homestead is kind of the equalizer in a way, and it's a different track than places we go most of the time. I think we're optimistic. We've had a good playoffs. We haven't got to Victory Lane, but we've been close a lot, and hopefully we can get over the hump this weekend.

Q. Wondering, having been here before, this is your third trip down to the Final Four, what is that experience like this year compared to like the first year, and how do you manage the race weekend with that experience of having been here before?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, I think the first year for us we really didn't know what to expect or what we were getting into, and we came away with a lot of learning to do from that, and I think even in '16 we didn't make it, we prepared as though we were going to make it and felt a lot more prepared when we got there last year.
I think really we're just trying to continue to build on the things that we felt like we didn't do right last year and hopefully make gains on those and be in better shape this time.

Q. Cole, car selection for this weekend, is this a previously used 78 car, or was it built brand new for this weekend?
COLE PEARN: Basically a brand new car. It's not one‑‑ I don't think we've run it in a while, so we basically started from scratch again. With the anticipation of making it, we were able to spend a good amount of time on it, and hopefully it's the right piece.

Q. I know you had a pit crew change early in the playoffs. Any changes with the pit crew going into this weekend from what you had at Phoenix this past weekend?
COLE PEARN: No, no changes. No, the guys have been coming together really well and are in a good spot, so really, really happy for that. I think they're ready to go.

Q. Are you at the shop in Denver right now?
COLE PEARN: I'm at home. We got home about 2:00 a.m. this morning after we got loaded last night. Kind of taking it a little bit easy this morning before I get back into getting ready to go.

Q. My question was going to be, I just wonder after seeing the truck leave and there really isn't anything else more to do at the shop, what's that like, or what was it like when the truck left last night, or what's it going to be like today to be back in the shop where there's not that preparation for the next race and the finale of everything probably seems more realistic now.
COLE PEARN: Yeah, it did. I don't think any of us were prepared for how emotional it was last night when we loaded up. I think we've just been head down, kind of pushing super hard, trying to do everything we can to get ready for this weekend, and once it was in the truck and saw the lift gate up, there was a lot of tears shed and a lot of sad faces, and I think all of us really realized that that was the last time we were going to do it together as a group. It's something a lot of relationships‑‑ a lot of relationships have been built from that shop, and it's a weird feeling for sure.

Q. Did anybody break out any champagne toasts for the last car, or just kind of shake hands and walk away?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, we kind of all hung out for a bit and had a few beverages and told old stories and kind of reminisced, and it was a really fun time that way.

Q. Cole, do you think that in any way the team shutting down at the end of this year, do you feel that has been a distraction maybe in some ways in the playoffs?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, of course it's been a distraction. I mean, it's been a pretty tough time for all of us. At the end of the day, I think we still managed to keep focused and keep plugging away, and I don't think we've led that slip. But it's just‑‑ it's something that has to come up, and it's something that has to be talked about, and people are worried about their futures.
But I think after the news came out when it did, it was probably roughly there for the first few weeks, and I think as people started to figure things out, it settled in a bit. We kind of were able to refocus and be able to close this thing out on a high note.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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