WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 6, 2017) – When it comes to a fuel mileage race the strategy has to be perfect and the driver has to be perfect. Furniture Row Racing had both Sunday as Martin Truex Jr. won the NASCAR Cup Series road course race at Watkins Glen International.
It was the 10th career win for the Denver, Colo.-based Furniture Row Racing and it was also another double top 10 for the team with rookie Erik Jones finishing 10th in his No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota.
Truex’s No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota Camry led a race high of 24 laps, but gave up the lead late in the race to save fuel. The strategy paid off as Truex retook the lead with three laps remaining on the 2.45-mile road circuit.
“I hated to have those cars pass me but you just have to listen to your crew chief and luckily for me I have the best one in the business (Cole Pearn),” said Truex, who qualified third for the 90-lap race earlier in the day. “I believe in Cole so much and I just do what he says. I have to thank Cole. It’s been a tough week for him and I am thinking about his buddy’s parents and family.”
Truex added, “I just kept listening to Cole. He said, ‘We need to slow down more. We need to slow down more.’ It’s the hardest thing in the world to slow down and let those guys pass you for the lead thinking that when you figure out that you have enough fuel to make it you can try to step up your pace again and they’re just going to do the same. You never know what strategy everybody is on. You don’t know how much gas they have or are saving. It’s so tough. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do just to slow down that much and watch those guys drive away. But, Cole Pearn man, that’s his job and I trust him and everything he says. He tells me what to do and I just do it and I don’t ask questions and here we are.”
For Pearn, it’s been an emotional week. He lost his best friend.
“Yeah, it's been probably the hardest week of my life,” said Pearn. “But I don't know, it's still ?? it's not over yet. I lost my best friend growing up this week. He caught a random bacterial infection from a cut and basically died in a day. It's not like he was sick. I talked to him the day before. They were coming to Michigan next weekend. So just doesn't seem real still. He's got two little boys who are not going to know their dad pretty much. I don't know, we'll get through it as a group. We were lucky to have an unbelievable friend support and family around that will make sure everybody is all right. But he was a heart?of?gold guy that ?? I don't know, I still haven't come to terms with it, to be honest.”
The race had nine lead changes among six drivers and there were three cautions for eight laps.