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March 18, 2018
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by two members of the race winning team. We have team owner Barney Visser and team manager Joe Garone from the race winning No.78 Bass Pro Shops 5‑Hour ENERGY Toyota from Furniture Row Racing.
Obviously you had a stunning 2017 season, championship winning year. What does it mean to come out of the box strong and get the victory on the board?
BARNEY VISSER: Well, after the beginning of the season there, watching Harvick run away with everything, I wasn't sure where we were at. I wish he would have not had the problems he had today and we could have run him again. I think we had something for him today. We won't know for a few weeks here where we're at.
THE MODERATOR: We are also joined by crew chief from the race winning team, Cole Pearn.
Cole, what was the difference maker this week compared to the last couple of weeks?
COLE PEARN: I think getting the new rules package and everything kind of sorted out some more. We knew early on we just really weren't where we wanted to be. But we weren't bad. It was just a matter of getting those last little bits.
It's always good when you're running top five, but you know there's room to grow, room to get better. This week was a step. Finally you get caught up where you can really make improvements. This was the first week where coming to the racetrack I felt like everything was making a little more sense, we had a lot better plan going into the day.
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with questions.
Q. Cole, did you get enough of a look at Harvick's car there early on to figure out how you two might have matched up at the end?
COLE PEARN: Hard to say. Those guys are an amazing race team. You know they're probably going to be there at some point.
I thought we were a little bit off from them yesterday in practice. Last night we were able to make a lot of good sense of stuff, find a lot of gain setup‑wise I felt like going into today. We had a quiet confidence that if everything lined up, we were definitely going to have a good run at them.
You never know. We don't really have another high‑speed mile‑and‑a‑half for a couple weeks, Texas. They were really good there last year, too. It's going to be an ongoing battle as it goes.
Q. Barney, you're typically not jumping around in the pits. Did you have to kind of think about restraining yourself after this first win after coming back?
BARNEY VISSER: It's nice to be back. I felt like we're back. That's huge. I usually don't jump up and down (laughter). I try to dodge the champagne when I can.
COLE PEARN: He didn't even want to get in the pictures today.
Q. You felt okay today?
BARNEY VISSER: I felt great. I'm doing really, really well.
Q. Cole, when you saw Harvick get in that collision with Larson, finish nine laps down, did that change any strategies that you had?
COLE PEARN: Not really. I mean, really in this sport you can only do what you can do to yourself. You're focused on your own program. You know those guys are really good. Obviously they've been really successful so far this year. Whether they were in the race or not, I don't think we would have played anything any different. You just got to do the best you can for yourself. Really, that's the only chance you have.
Q. Last year you had a two‑car team, now you're a one‑car team again. Is it more difficult because your driver cannot share information with the teammate?
COLE PEARN: I don't think so. I think for us it's really no different. You always kind of focus. We operate in such a small window of stuff that's really focused on Martin. Whether we had one car or two cars, we were really focused on our one car.
It's less information in a way. In the same sense, it's easier in the shop now just having to prepare two cars a week instead of four. It's a lot more time and detail can go into them. For us, being a small team, it's not a bad problem at all.
Q. Cole, we can assume NASCAR's new rule with the qualifying issues is going to continue next week. If you can't get through inspection, you'll have to do a pass‑through early in the race, whatever. How does that change your approach to getting cars ready?
COLE PEARN: I mean, we can't do any more than what we're doing. You do everything you possibly can every week to pass tech. That's the first goal of everything. When things don't go your way, you struggle with something, you fail or whatever, it's so unintentional. That's what's really hard.
Now you're just going to get penalized more, but your intent's still the same. It's a difficult position the teams are in. At the end of the day I think what happened on Friday is a lot of teams had issues. Just because a lot of teams had issues, guys that had small issues had trouble getting through. 18 failed one time and they barely made qualifying passing the second time.
You're so dictated by how many other people fail whether you're going to have time to get through other times. It's just really, really hard. The level of detail they're inspecting the cars at is so small, so tight, you're doing everything you possibly can.
There's error in what we do. We're not perfect. We're slowly trying to get it figured out, especially with the new system. It's really difficult for us.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, gentlemen.
We are now joined by the race winner, driver of the No.78 Bass Pro Shops 5‑Hour ENERGY Toyota for Furniture Row Racing, Martin Truex Jr.
Martin, today was a return to form of sorts from the top performances the team put down in 2017. What was the difference maker today? What does it mean to come out of the gates strong in 2018?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: First off, it just feels good to win. To get our first California win is unbelievable. I feel like we've been getting better here the last couple years, just haven't been able to put it all together.
For us to get our first win of the season today, it's definitely special. To get it here, finish off the West Coast swing with a win, feels great.
I feel like we've been close all year long. I kept telling people we were close. They are like, Well, you're not winning stages. We're right there, so...
The guys have done a great job on the team. Feel good about where we're at. The consistency is there, for sure. Today we were able to find just a great balanced car and one that had really good speed on the long runs, which is what it takes here.
Just happy and proud of everybody on our team for doing a great job. Hopefully we can continue that.
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with questions.
Q. How good does it feel to unseat Kevin Harvick with his string of wins? Do you think this is going to reset everybody moving forward into Martinsville?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Honestly, it just feels good to win. I don't really care. I don't really worry about who's winning, who else is fast. Obviously the 4 has been quick. They've got a great team. Kevin is an awesome driver. They had it going on the last couple weeks.
As we seen today, we can put together a run like that as well. I think most of all it feels good we're able to find that speed we've been looking for the last couple weeks. Like I said, we've been close, but not quite close enough. We knew we were off a bit, so it wasn't a surprise that we weren't winning.
Today I felt really good about what we had. It was really fast. It's just kind of reassurance that what we're doing is working. We have a lot of things we have to look forward to this year. That's because of the hard work of the guys, just everybody in our program, Toyota, TRD, all the guys in Denver, JGR chassis, all we do together with them. It's been an unbelievable couple of seasons. Hopefully we can keep it rolling.
Q. You mentioned the long runs. Not a lot of cautions. You were set up for that. How might things have changed if there had been a lot of cautions?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: We were really fast on short runs and long runs I felt like. If we could come out of the pits with the lead, we could hold the lead and drive away on the long runs. I felt we really had the best of both worlds. I don't think there was anybody better on the short or long run, which is hard to do here.
We had a little trouble in the pits. Lost the lead a couple times on pit stops. That was something we had to fight through a little bit. The guys just kept chipping away at it there on the stops. Our last couple were really good.
Just the way it works. I think any way this race could have played out, we could have won. We had the speed. The car was unbelievable.
Q. Did you see enough of Harvick's car to know if he would have been your biggest challenger?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I didn't. That first pit stop was under green. He came in pretty close. We left pit road and I drove away from him. That's the only gauge I really had on it. Of course, it felt good at the time to do that. He had his issues. We'll never know.
I'm sure we'll have plenty of chances to race each other throughout the rest of the season.
Q. Were you surprised he wrecked while racing somebody on lap 37? He said he made a dumb mistake. Is it just avoiding making dumb mistakes?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I actually haven't seen any of it. I don't even know what happened. I can't comment on it.
Q. How much do races generally come down to not making mistakes?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, I mean, every race, if you make a mistake, you're screwed. Every single one of them there's opportunities for those things to happen. If you want to be consistent and you want to have good, consistent finishes every week, you can't make mistakes.
I guess it depends on the severity of the mistake, whether you can get away with it or not. Today obviously his was a big one if he got wrecked. I think we all make small mistakes here or there, hitting your line, missing your line, things like that. When you make a mistake, get yourself in a crash, that's a whole different ballgame.
Q. Your comment on five races now, 60 stage points, how important stage points are, talk about that.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Stage points are your friend. We love them. I mean, the more you can get, the happier you are before the Playoffs start. For us, we've been consistent, been right there all year long. Each and every racetrack we've had good runs, been able to get some of those stage points.
More importantly, it's the bonus points, it's the stage wins. We weren't able to get any of those until today. Of course, to get the win to get five was good.
I think bonus points are a huge part of what we do now. You try to gather them up as much as you can because they're worth a lot when the Playoffs start.
Q. You've raced here a lot, come close to winning here before. Did you wonder what it would take?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: It feels great. Like you said, we've been kind of knocking on the door the last couple seasons at Furniture Row Racing. We finished fourth last year, led a bunch of laps. I think really the last three years we've led laps here and been there all day. Man, it's just never worked out.
Today we had so much speed, we could get out there and control the race. Without just really untimely cautions, it was going to be hard to beat us. For sure, the last 15 or 20 laps I was really praying we didn't get a caution. I didn't want to worry about something happening to take it away from us.
Luckily it all worked out. It feels amazing. Like I said earlier, to win early in the season I think is really important, for that momentum, that confidence as a team. It just kind of reassures you what you're doing is working and you can continue down that path. It worked great for us last year. Hopefully we can take advantage of it again.
Q. You're leading the points now.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Awesome.
Q. Probably because Harvick got two points today.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: That sucks.
Q. I'm sure you feel bad (laughter).
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: He's got three wins. He'll be fine. Don't worry about him.
Q. When do you start looking at points, potentially winning the regular‑season title?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Points are great. Like I said, bonus points, you want to get all you can. Winning the regular season for us last year, it's a big confidence booster. Honestly, it means a lot to a team. It's so difficult to do, to win. We've heard other guys talk about it before, Harvick in particular. It's a huge accomplishment to win the regular season points. It's so difficult to come to all these different racetracks, be consistent week after week, deal with all the things that racing can throw at you.
It's something that, yeah, absolutely, we're looking forward to doing that. Like I said, we've got the consistency so far, which has been really good. Hopefully we can continue that.
I think for us, we come out each and every week to win. If we can't do that, we try to get the best result we can. So far it's going well.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Martin.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Thanks, everyone.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports