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October 22, 2017

Joe Garone

Cole Pearn

Barney Visser

Kansas City, Kansas

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by team owner Barney Visser for Furniture Row Racing, and general manager Joe Garone.
Barney, this is seven wins now this season for the 78 car, the most for a car in a single season since 2013. What has led to that success?
BARNEY VISSER: It's just a combination of everything. Martin, and we say it every time we get in front of a microphone, he's just on fire right now. Every call he makes seems to be the exact call, what he needs in the car the guys are able to give him. It makes all the difference.
THE MODERATOR: Joe, the 78 team was able to maintain its composure today, really work back from the penalty on the restart. How nervous were you after being assessed that penalty, working your way back through the field?
JOE GARONE: It was certainly concerning. That's a big mountain to climb, trying to come back from that. It does show, though, the strength that the guys have, whether it's the racecar or you're off at the beginning of the race and adjustments have to be made. They nail the adjustments. We just stretched it out over the whole race this time to come back from the deficit that we created.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open the floor for questions.

Q. How emotional was this whole day, considering the tragedy last night?
JOE GARONE: Yeah, it was extremely emotional. I don't think I've ever gone through anything like that, or any of the guys. The nice thing is, we're a tight race team. Everybody rallied together on both the 77 and the 78. Just, you know, kept focused on what we needed to do.
James was a friend to everybody, and a good worker. Yeah, it's hard to talk about. He worked on both the 77 and the 78. His hands were on the 78 car going through inspection yesterday, preparing it. It's just amazing that we were able to win the race and win it to honor him and his family.

Q. No offense to y'all, but there's a lot of people think the 42 would have been the best car at Homestead. They got eliminated today. How big a deal is that in your run to the championship?
JOE GARONE: Yeah, we didn't get there, so I don't know if it would have been the best. I could see why they think he might be. He is really talented there. I know we struggled there in the past. I wish he could have made it. I hope we make it so we could have proven that out. Didn't happen.
We'll look forward to continuing trying to get there and get it done.

Q. Typically both teams, whenever you win, don't always go to Victory Lane, but today both teams were in Victory Lane because of what happened last night. What did that mean to have everybody there together in that sense, something a little different for your team?
JOE GARONE: It was terrific. It meant everything. We've talked about it before, just in general. You get broke apart, everybody has their jobs, you separate. This was the time to come together.
I'm glad we didn't do it before. It was to honor James. So it was perfect.

Q. Barney, I don't know if you've seen the points, but you're up 52 points on fourth. I know anything can happen. How nice it to have at least that little bit of a cushion?
BARNEY VISSER: Well, it's nice to be running like this. Of course, it's great to have that kind of cushion. We are fairly comfortable compared to other years. It's easy to get bounced out. Anything can happen, so...
I don't know if it's mathematically impossible for us not to make it. But things happen, as you know. You watch some of these other cars, you watch what happened to the 42. Shouldn't have happened, but there it is.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations on the victory.
JOE GARONE: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue on with our post race media availability. We're joined by the winning crew chief, Cole Pearn.
Cole, I know your team was racing today with heavy hearts. Getting back to Victory Lane had to make that even more special for you today.
COLE PEARN: Yeah, still pretty surreal at this point. Obviously a lot happened last night. I don't know, we were kind of all focused on what we had to do today. We knew that was the best thing we could do for Jim. He's a true racer, in the purest form. I know that's what he would have wanted.
To be able to get to Victory Lane is a silver lining, for sure. Still makes it a pretty tough day.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open the floor for questions.

Q. Cole, did it have any impact not having your fabricator just in terms of what you were trying to do today? Was he out with other crew members? How shaken up were some of those guys overnight having to go through that?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, I mean, it affects us, for sure. He works on both cars. He's a key kind of role getting cars through tech and stuff like that. Definitely hurts you not having him here.
Yeah, they went out go‑kart racing last night as a group. Yeah, he was excited to go. I know they were just sitting there, and he had a heart attack and kind of keeled over when they were done. I know he just texted his wife not long before that telling her how good a time he was having. Take a little bit of solace in that, that he was happy in his last moments.

Q. Were you or Martin there?
COLE PEARN: No, I was not.

Q. What did you think about Larson getting knocked out, considering they're so strong at Homestead?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, it's crazy. I mean, I think it just shows you everybody makes a big deal out of the bonus points, but nothing is sacred by any means. You can have a little bit of trouble, especially like they had, blowing up before the end of the first stage. You walk away with basically nothing.
It can happen to anybody. We're very well aware of that. I think we got to dot our Is and cross our Ts the next few weeks to make sure we make it to Homestead.

Q. Could you talk about how you have been able to maintain this high level of excellence and keep winning. It wasn't something that came out of Daytona and you did well. You managed to keep it going the whole way.
COLE PEARN: Yeah, it's huge. I think it's just a testament to our group. We push every week like it's the most important race of the season to that point. I think if you have that mindset, that's what's going to keep you near the front of the pack. We've been fortunate enough to have strong cars. We continue to work to get them stronger.
I don't know, I mean, we have a really set program that we run every week, how we approach the weekend. I think it's just a testament to our refinement of that over the time, the hard work of everybody at Toyota, JGR, Furniture Row.

Q. I think it was during the red flag where Martin came over the radio and said, I think we have a chance to win this thing. With the success you've had on mile‑and‑a‑half tracks, it's well‑founded. Were you sort of thinking the same thing?
COLE PEARN: Yeah, I mean, I think after everything that happened, we were starting the final stage in a decent spot somehow. So I think then he knocked off a really good restart, we missed that wreck, all of a sudden, boom, we're fourth, sitting with better tires than anybody in front of us. You think, Holy cow, we're in a pretty favorable position at this point.

Q. You obviously had last night. So tough everything that happened. Did you have anything special you said to each other today when you got out there?
COLE PEARN: No. I mean, we all saw each other last night. Quite a few of us went to the hospital. We were there till after midnight last night. We all kind of met back at the hotel. Just hugged each other. I mean, nothing you really can say.
(Indiscernible) kind of like our second car chief. Him and Jim were the closest. They were roommates. I think about him having to call his wife last night, pack his stuff up this morning. Just really difficult.

Q. This is kind of a difficult question after answering that. I wondered, could you describe the vibe of the team right now. You have had the success, it keeps going. Do you have to temper it down a little bit because you are doing so well? Do you buy into that?
COLE PEARN: I don't think so. I think we know what's end prize is. We haven't lost sight of that by any means. I think the good thing about getting wins is we can enjoy them because, I mean, something could happen to us like happened to the 42 at Homestead. With this format, you can win 34 out of 36 races and lead everything but the last lap, boom, you're not the champion.
You got to grasp every win and enjoy it, take all those highs just in case something happens in the last race.

Q. How challenging has this year been in terms of just the emotional things that you go through with Martin and Sherry, with what you went through before Watkins Glen? I can't imagine what you guys have gone through this year.
COLE PEARN: Yeah, I don't know. I mean, even before any of this happened, my wife and I put our dog down last week after we won Charlotte, that we've had for 13 years. It was, like, we were sitting here coming off a win, lose a close member of our family. It's just, like, man, I don't know if regular life is supposed to be like this. Then you have this going on.
I don't know, it just keeps on going for some reason. It would be a lot nicer to have all the highs and not have the lows. That's just the way life is. We're getting the full circle of it right now.

Q. Would it have been more difficult to perform today in light of the tragedy if you had not yet advanced, if you were coming in here needing a certain finish?
COLE PEARN: Oh, yeah. I hadn't even thought of that, honestly. Honestly, that would have been even more difficult. I mean, we got called on a restart violation because I wasn't paying attention in the drivers meeting, I guess. I guess they talked about it. Martin and I were talking about what happened last night. I flat just wasn't paying attention.
I think, I don't know, anything could have made it that much more difficult. It was hard just trying to keep up with what was going on with the other guys. I can't imagine if it was us involved.

Q. Cole, with everything that you have been through from your best friend to the other things that have happened, it keeps piling on, but you remain so Zen during adversity. You had two things that happened today. You still keep it together. Is it just the way you're wired?
COLE PEARN: I guess. I don't know. Must be, I don't know. It's not easy at times. I think especially early on getting knocked out of the lead, it was tough. Then a loose wheel. Saving fuel in the middle of the race. It's just crazy.
I don't know. We kept seeing how the situation was changing, trying to make the best call we could at the time. I think that's the only way we really know how to do it.

Q. Cole, do you have some sympathy maybe for Kyle Larson? Last year you had one of the best cars, and something similar happened to you. Do you feel for what that team is going through?
COLE PEARN: Absolutely. I mean, they're a phenomenal race team that deserve to be in it by all means.
That's the entertainment format that we have right now. I mean, it's shifted a bit this year with bonus points, to try to help the better cars get through. You have something like that happen like they did, especially with Talladega in the round, it can just happen in a hurry.
I think that's why we were so emotional when we won Charlotte, knowing what it meant. If we go in there, wrecked last week, they finished better than we did. If we hadn't have won Charlotte, blown up today, we would have been out.
It's crazy. You can't ever be safe, for sure.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on the win. Good luck. Our heart goes out to you and your guys.
COLE PEARN: Thank you.

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