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October 8, 2017

Joe Garone

Cole Pearn

Concord, North Carolina

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by our race‑winning team crew chief Cole Pearn and team manager Joe Garone. It's always a nice ending to a day when you can walk in smelling like champagne into the media center. We will start, Cole, with you; the 78 team started off a little bit uncharacteristic this weekend, struggled a little bit. Martin mentioned how much that frustrated the two of you. You were determined to make up for it today and you did. Talk a little bit about this weekend, the team's efforts to get the car better and ultimately being able to celebrate in Victory Lane.
COLE PEARN: Yeah, it definitely didn't go the way we wanted to or the way we drew it up, but we kind of missed it a bit in qualifying and just shows you how close everything is. We weren't off by much, and all of a sudden, boom, you're 17th. Our qualifying performance has been one of our strengths this year, and it definitely wasn't this weekend.
Then you go into Saturday, and after you concentrate all on qualifying, then you get rain out of nowhere, and boom, you're sitting there Saturday thinking, how are we going to prepare for this. We were off yesterday on what we thought we needed to be, and then, boom, you got no race practice.
So challenging situation for sure, but we just went through as detailed as we could and did the best job that we could, and we started the race not where we wanted to be, but we kind of had a plan how we were going to get there, and we just really worked on it a lot, more so than our norm. We usually feel pretty confident going into the race, but we weren't at all today.
At the end of the day we got the car close, but the pit crew just put us on their backs and got us up front. Once we got track position, I still don't know that we were the best car by any means, but we were able to hold it off and get to Victory Lane.

Q. Joe, for you, this team has definitely had something special this year all season long, obviously making an even stronger run in the playoffs. Talk a little bit about from your perspective what makes the combination of Cole and Martin so good together and really what brings this team to be so competitive at such a high level?
JOE GARONE: Well, globally across the team, it's just the people, obviously, and with Cole and Martin and our other engineers, and even clear into the shop, the guys in the shop, it's about personalities, really, the way they get along and work together. Cole and Martin are a lot on the same page. With Cole's background driving and engineering, they just fit each other like a glove, honestly, and we see results from it.

Q. Cole, obviously a lot of physical problems today for drivers, heat, humidity, etcetera. Did you get any clue that Martin might have been having issues beyond the norm?
COLE PEARN: Not really. I mean, he's pretty good about not whining and not complaining about that stuff, but seeing him after the race how whipped he was was kind of a shock. But I know I was sweating my butt off up there. I was reminded of how happy I am to live in Colorado, I know that.

Q. Cole, I think this is y'all's fifth win on a mile‑and‑a‑half track this year. You say you don't know if you guys had the best car or not; is that a concern going forward since there are so many mile‑and‑a‑halfs? You've got Kansas in two weeks coming up, Homestead is a mile‑and‑a‑half, or is it just like, well, we weren't the best here this weekend, that might not be an issue when we get to Kansas?
COLE PEARN: You never know, but I mean, obviously this weekend was a challenge for us because we had no practice. We're a team that really uses our practice to validate our tools and then come up with a new plan for the race. We didn't have that opportunity this weekend. You know, I think from that standpoint, it's really hard to base our performance off of that. I think if we go to Kansas and all of a sudden we have a normal weekend and we go in the race and we're not as good as we need to be, then maybe we're more concerned. But I think just the kind of extreme circumstances of the weekend was a bit of a guessing game. We missed it in qualifying, but we didn't miss it by much. We were maybe a percent off on balance or something like that, and we got too loose, and then all of a sudden, boom, you're 17th.
It's just a tough sport, tough competition. I mean, I know sometimes you make it look easy running good every weekend, but I'm telling you, it's not.

Q. Cole, we talked to you on pit lane in May, and you kind of made the insinuation that you can't save fuel if you're really fast, and when the caution flew around 267, a lot of teams on FanVision were coming across talking about saving fuel, and I never heard you say that. Were you at a point that far from the finish that you knew you couldn't make it on fuel and you had to assume you'd get another caution?
COLE PEARN: No, I got on him about saving fuel there, especially the end of the run. We were a lap or two short probably. But I think in May it was like extreme, extreme circumstances. You're having to save like six laps or something like that.
I think today we knew that‑‑ of our past history of getting our butts beat at the end of races and long green flag runs at Charlotte, we kind of were ready for the fuel mileage deal, and I feel like that's something we've got better at as a team. Just when we get in those scenarios, we ‑‑ before, we were like, we've got to go, go, go, go, go, and now we look at the bigger picture a little bit more, and I think obviously we were going to be fine if the fuel situation came into play.

Q. Cole, given y'all's restrictor plate results this year, how much better do you feel going into next weekend now?
COLE PEARN: Big time. We suck. You know, I think Martin is like 0 for 100 in speedway races. I know we've had a couple ones we've got close, but man, average finish wise we're pretty terrible. For us not to have to worry about that, and it's just the randomness of what can happen. But we always feel like we're in the randomness. Definitely doesn't make you comfortable. I know everybody in the media makes a big deal about the bonus points, but we look at what happened to the 18 today, we have a day like that, and then, boom, we go to Talladega and all of a sudden we're going to Kansas sweating it. To come out of here and know we're in the spot we're in is massive, absolutely massive.

Q. Cole, you said obviously you didn't have a whole lot of time to try to figure out the balance of the car with the rain on Saturday, so today was there a lot of you picking up things and making adjustments to the car, or was some of it also the track changing back into your favor?
COLE PEARN: I mean, the track would change a lot today as it went, but no, we had to just way out of our norm I would say. We tried to not focus and make a lot of adjustments and tweak on it as we go and today we were taking big swings at it. We got aggressive with the changes early, probably gave up some track position making slower changes, but at the end of the day that was what we needed to do early. We probably didn't score any stage points in the first one just because we took so long on the first stop making a big swing at it.
But at the end of the day, we got it closer, and then we were able to pick up track position. But for sure we had that green flag stop, all of a sudden the balance was way different, and then the track cooled back down, we had those yellow flags and it kind of came back to where our balance was a little bit happier. I think the 42 was going to eat us up on the green flag runs for sure, but after a yellow flag stop we were a lot better.

Q. I've got one for each of you; Cole, obviously the pairing of you and Martin has just worked time and time again. You guys have had so much success since you paired up and brought Furniture Row to prominence here. What is it if you can put your finger on something about the relationship between the two of you that has just seemed to work so well and provide you guys with the success that you've had?
COLE PEARN: I mean, it's paramount. I think it's his relationship with our whole team and our whole team as a group. I mean, we're all in it together. We all sucked together in 2014, and at the end of the day we didn't get on each other. It was a time when we really struggled, and it was an opportunity for things to fall apart, and we all kind of looked each other in the ear (sic) and said, hey, man, if we get this fixed, we're confident in everybody. Even when we ran bad, Martin knew that I looked at him and had the confidence in his eyes and he looked at me and knew that I was trying and knew that I was believing in him, and at the end of the day when we came together in 2015 as a group and just the hires we made and the team that we have is, I don't know, just truly special. I look back on that winter a lot and say, man, if we'd have made this decision or that decision, would we be as good today, and it just kind of all fell together.

Q. Joe, kind of to build on that a little bit, Furniture Row just from where you guys started, I call it kind of humble beginnings in a way because you guys have literally come from the bottom of this series all the way now to be sitting basically right at the very top. Talk a little bit about, if you can, kind of the journey that this team has gone on over the past decade or so from your eyes.
JOE GARONE: Well, you see all that gray? It starts there. Seriously, over all these years, it's about people. Again, having an owner like we have in Barney Visser and the means and the willingness to spend money in the areas that make a difference has been really important all along the way. And then the patience for us to gradually find better and better people to get the job done, and really not to keep blowing Cole up, but when we landed with Cole and a few of our other key guys that we still have today, it really set us on a different path, and they brought a whole different group of people with them that they were used to working with, and it's just gradually over the years gotten better and better, and we're always on the lookout for that next super person that can help the team, and again, Barney really supports us, and I also have to say our relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing, as well. The relationships we've been able to build, the technical alliance is key. Without it, this stuff doesn't happen for us.
It's a lot of things that have come together over a lot of the years here.

Q. Cole, I was in here when Denny was in here earlier. I asked him, I said, you guys are aligned or however you want to say it, but you clearly are so much better than they are right now, and I asked him why that was, and he said that you have got reserve speed, that that makes the difference. So what does that mean? Where is your reserve speed?
COLE PEARN: I don't know that. Maybe it's just because Martin makes less money than him. (Laughter.)

Q. Joe, speaking of making less money, you're looking next year at most likely having one full‑time team, not sure what's going to go on with the 77. Looking ahead at that, what challenges do you feel like that's going to present your organization, getting back to one car worth of input versus two?
JOE GARONE: Well, I think we have to wait and see a little bit, but obviously the one thing that comes clear right away is the total focus that ends up being applied to‑‑ if you lose one team, it all comes together for the team you still have. We'll have to wait and see how that all plays out, but I think it'll be‑‑ we're not going to lose a step by it, that's for sure.

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