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September 18, 2016

Cole Pearn

Martin Truex, Jr.

Barney Visser

Joliet, Illinois

THE MODERATOR: We will continue on with today's post race media availability. We're joined by the winning crew chief of today's race, Cole Pearn, the No.78 Furniture Row Denver Mattress Toyota for Furniture Row Racing. The third victory and 13th top‑10 finish in 2016 for the 78.
Cole, this team had to overcome some adversity today. Can you walk us through that adversity and how you did overcome that.
COLE PEARN: Yeah, that was kind of wild. Didn't really expect that to happen. We had the inside of the right front unravel there when we were running the 48 back down for the lead. We were really fortunate we had a really good car. We were able to get back there and get the Lucky Dog, which was huge, got back on the lead lap. We had the deal with the 4 there. Still don't know what that was about. Had some left rear damage which slowed us up for a bit. Once we got through that, the speed came back.
I feel bad for the 24. I don't think there was any way we were going to get them. We've been on the other side of that a lot. Credit to the pit crew for getting us off pit road first there. Martin did a hell of a job on the restart.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open the floor for questions.

Q. At the end of the race, was your strategy dependent on whether Chase was going to pit or not or did you want those fresh tires?
COLE PEARN: I think we wanted the fresh tires no matter what. We talked for a while about doing the opposite. I think with the amount of laps, the tires was going to be the right call. Nice to have faith in your pit crew, nice for them to hit it at the right time. Makes things so much easier.

Q. In your history, do you have a card saying, Let's do it if so many come in? You're so far up in front, you almost have to make the move first. What's the plan?
COLE PEARN: You talk about all the scenarios. Obviously it's harder. As it gets down, there's less laps. If there's 10 laps to go or something like that, you have 20 laps left on the tires, it's an easier call. As much falloff as we were seeing today, it made it much easier to come and get tires.

Q. Cole, the early tire issue that you had, had you seen anything before that or did you see anything after that? There were a lot of long green‑flag runs.
COLE PEARN: Yeah, I don't know. All through practice or anything like that, we felt like we were pretty conservative, not really worried about being over‑cambered. I know we were higher on air pressure than some others.
I don't think it was anything that related. It just came unraveled on the dual tread on the inside. The harder compound came off it. I guess they saw a couple other tires that came down in a certain sequence number that had issues. Unfortunately we had one set of them on there near the end, that second to last run before we pitted with two to go.
Pretty nervous at that point when they came down and told us, Don't put these codes on if you don't have to. We had them on the car at that point. So that was a little bit stressful. But luckily they were able to hold on.

Q. Now that you've locked yourself into the next round of the Chase, how does that impact your strategy going forward heading to New Hampshire and Dover?
COLE PEARN: You still got to go plug away and have clean weeks. If you're fortunate enough to get wins, you keep potentially other people from getting in.
You still got to go and race hard for sure. It's hard to turn it off and on in this sport. We'll definitely keep plugging away.
It's such a swing of events. That caution doesn't come out, we run second, we got to be stressed pretty hard the next two weeks. Now we breathe a little bit easier.
I think the second round bodes really well for us. We have strong tracks in that round. Hopefully we can prepare for that and be in good shape when they come.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on the win and good luck next week in New Hampshire.
COLE PEARN: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by team owner Barney Visser.
Barney, glad you can join us for one of these. Good to have you here. Was there any doubt you were going to attend today's race?
BARNEY VISSER: There was some doubt when I attended that we were going to win, but other than that...
THE MODERATOR: We'll open the floor for questions.

Q. You've been through some of these where you haven't won, you get your way through on points. How nice is it to have a win and kind of know you have a couple weeks to breathe easy?
BARNEY VISSER: You know, I guess that's probably a better question for the team.
I don't think they're going to let up at all. They enjoy being in Victory Lane just a little bit too much. They work too hard on the cars to back off at all in the next two races.
Martin enjoys running up front. He's pure athlete. This is what he does it for.

Q. As your team has had to build up and get competitive, be able to run with these teams, do you feel now you're living a dream, you have to pinch yourself to believe all this is happening?
BARNEY VISSER: That's a pretty good question. Yeah, I do feel like I'm living a dream. But that's why we do it.
Most of the other things that I've done in life have been a little bit like this, but nothing right to the very top of the best racing in the world here. Very exciting.
I have to thank Toyota and Martin. Like I said, I think he's pure athlete. He drove for a little bit less this year than I think a lot of the drivers in his class have, and he did it because he wanted to be here. I can't thank him enough for all that.
THE MODERATOR: Barney, congratulations on the win.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Martin Truex Jr., who also now advances to the Round of 12 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Talk about that right there, advancing to the next round.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: We did what we came here to do. That always feels good when you accomplish your goals. We had a good weekend here with our Furniture Row Toyota. Worked really hard on our car throughout practice, on race runs. Tried some new stuff this weekend and really felt like throughout the weekend we were getting the car feeling really good for race trim.
It was a good weekend for us. Really today was a great day for us on the racetrack. We had to overcome some adversity obviously. That was tough. But really proud of our team for everybody sticking together, everybody keeping their heads down and never quitting till it was over.
Today was obviously a big win for us. Just excited for everybody. I mean, this is what we came here to do. It was cool to be able to put it out there and make it happen.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions for Martin.

Q. You've now won as many races this year as you did in your previous career combined. Obviously you still have had bad luck at times, but does this feel like the year that's finally coming together?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Without a doubt it's the best team I've ever had, it's the best position I've ever been in. I really feel like we have what it takes to win this championship.
I felt like we had the same thing last year, but we didn't have the racecars. We didn't have the speed we have now. That's really taken us to another level.
There's been years, a few years, where I should have won multiple races, but I've never been in a position where I feel like we can go anywhere and win. Right now I feel like any racetrack, any weekend, anywhere in the country we can win. It's just so much fun to go to the racetrack and have that feeling, have that much confidence in your team and what you're doing. Having that much confidence in yourself as a driver is the ultimate goal.
So it feels so good. I'm so proud of everyone and thankful. We have two weeks now to just try to keep the momentum going. We have no pressure on us. Hopefully we'll be able to get a couple more trophies and then get ready for round two.

Q. You had some trouble today, some bad luck with the front tire. Kind of your season in a way. When you had that issue, were you able to draw on the previous experiences this year? What was the mindset there?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: The mindset was, All right, this isn't good, this is bad. I really wish this didn't happen, but it did. How are we going to overcome it?
That's all you can do at that point in time is say, Okay, where are we at? Where is the leader? What do I need to do? Cole kept me updated on who the leader was, who was a lap down, where I had to get to. Just kept my pushing, just kept my head down, kept digging. Eventually got back on the lead lap. Then the challenge was, How are we going to get up through traffic? It wasn't easy to pass out there. But our car was really good on the long runs. That's where we were able to make time.
It was trying to be patient on the short runs, on the restarts, try to keep my tires under me, and wait for those guys to start fading, then make my move. That's what I did all day long and it worked out.

Q. Was it a plan to automatically go for tires with the stop at the end? When the restart happened, automatically you go to the high side?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Good question. When the caution come out, Cole said, Now what do we do?
I said, We just ran a long way, we get tires.
I mean, obviously that was the right idea, the right call, because everybody took tires except for three guys. They were sitting ducks.
Getting four tires was a great call. The pit crew had a great stop at the end, which we really needed. Getting that fourth position on the outside I think was the key to winning. Making the move to the outside was just what I was presented with. That was the only move I could make. Fortunately we were able to make it work.

Q. I'm curious what this win means in the sense of the fact if you finished second. I assume you still would have felt like you're a great Chase contender?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I think really all it means is that we're guaranteed to make the second round, and the next two weeks we don't have to worry about flat tires or somebody running into us and wrecking us, getting caught by a caution when you're pitting, things like that. We don't have to worry about the things that we can't control.
That's what gives you the most anxiety in these situations when you're in the Chase and you have three‑round eliminations. So we don't have to deal with that for two weeks. All we have to focus on is going to the racetrack and trying to continue to do a great job and win some more races. So that's our goal right now.

Q. Barney called you a 'pure athlete'. He also said you drove for a little bit less this year than you probably could have, and you did it because you wanted to be there. Can you address that?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: It's not something I normally talk about. Since he brought it up...
Barney has put a lot into his race team over the years obviously. Seeing Furniture Row on that racecar each and every year, that's Barney's racecar and Barney is the one funding it.
He had to change some things in the way he was running his race team. He asked me if I would kind of not take the hit, but be the one that took a little bit of a hit for the team to make sure we could keep the competition up and make sure we could continue to get the things we needed to be competitive and win races and hopefully go after a championship.
There was other opportunities that were out there. I believe this is the best team I've ever had. This is my best opportunity to win races. We've proven that. It's my best opportunity, and really only my second opportunity, since last year, to go for a championship. That wasn't something I was willing to get rid of or throw away.
Made the commitment to Barney we were going to do it, we were going to work together and make it work for everybody.

Q. You seem to have a year with incredible highs and lows even in the same races. How do you handle sort of the emotional ups and downs especially now that the playoffs are here?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I can tell you, I've had a lot of practice at it. It hasn't just been this season. It's been honestly my whole entire racing career. I mean, I can tell you back when I ran Busch North cars out of my dad's shop, three of us working in the shop, I dealt with some crazy things happening.
I've had a lot of practice at it. I think my approach to it really changed two years ago when Sherry got diagnosed with cancer and had to go through all those things. My approach to how I dealt with those things changed and I think made me a better driver.
But I think at the end of the day I've been through a lot. I think the only way to get through those type of things is to have experience with it and kind of learn how to deal with it and understand that, hey, this isn't the end of the world, we can overcome it.
So that's what we did today. That's what you have to do. I mean, what is the alternative? So that's what we did. Glad we were able to make it all work today.

Q. Can you go back to the incident with Kevin Harvick and tell me what led up to that and why you thought it was intentional.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Nothing led up to it. We hadn't been around each other all day really. I passed him once earlier. I had newer tires. He was lapped. That was after I had a flat and I was racing to get my lap back.
He was behind me out on a restart probably 15 laps or so into a run. He got underneath me. We come off of two. We're going down the backstretch, he hit me in the left rear as we were going straight for no reason.
The reason I thought it was intentional is because we were on the straightaway. Typically it's real easy not to run into somebody's left rear on the straightaway. As far as I could tell, he did it on purpose. All I can do is assume that and wait for him to tell me otherwise.

Q. Harvick made trophies an issue last week when he talked about Keelan. You got a pretty cool trophy today. Do you have any plans for that?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I think I'm going to put that trophy in my shop because we have like a little store set up in there at Martin Truex Jr. Motorsports. We have a lot of family and kids come by. It will be cool to set it up in the opening and get their picture taken with it. That's what I thought while I was standing out there and somebody asked me that. We're going to do that for sure.

Q. Were you going to catch Chase in those final five laps or did the shredded tire save the day?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, first let me say that I've been dominating races before, had big leads, had the caution come out, and come off pit road second, third, whatever, lose the race.
First off, I want to say I feel for Chase. I know what he's going through. He did a great job. I wasn't going to catch him. I was catching him, but I was not catching him enough to pass him in five more laps.
So I know what he's going through. But obviously he did a good job and they were really fast today. We had to come from behind.
No, to answer your question straight up, I don't think we were going to be able to pass him unless he got loose or made a mistake. We weren't catching him quick enough.
That last run, I got pretty loose for some reason, having trouble getting off the corner. I was really struggling to run him down.

Q. Were you surprised by the speed of the Hendrick cars today considering they hadn't showed it much this season?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Not really (smiling). What? I mean, it's the Chase, the 48 car. What do you expect, right?

Q. Was that the thought all along, they would pick up as the Chase came along?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: They lay in the weeds, sandbag. Man, the Chevys are struggling. Toyotas are too fast. Got to take something from them.
Here they come. That's just how they play the game.
THE MODERATOR: Martin, congratulations on the win.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Thanks, guys. Have a good one.

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