MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Frustration boiled over for Cole Pearn, crew chief of the No. 78, after watching Martin Truex Jr.’s shot at clinching a Championship 4 berth slip away in the final lap of Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway.
And Todd Gordon, crew chief of race-winning driver Joey Logano, doesn’t blame him.
Pearn and Gordon exchanged words on pit road after watching their drivers bump and bang around the final lap at the .526-mile track. Truex Jr. had taken the lead from Logano as the white flag dropped, but the Team Penske driver rallied and initiated contact in the final turn to win.
“I used a few choice words I probably shouldn’t have,” Pearn told NBCSN. “But it’s racing. You’re competitive. You care about it. We put our entire lives into this and when you come that close you get emotional.”
Logano’s last-lap move on Truex Jr. to not only secure a grandfather clock, but also a coveted playoff spot at Homestead-Miami Speedway, was met with a mix of both cheers and boos from the crowd.
Gordon knows that if he were in the No. 78 team’s position, he wouldn’t be pleased with the outcome, either. But he stands by his driver’s decision and believes the move was clean.
“He’s frustrated,” Gordon explained to NBCSN after hearing Pearn’s comments. “If roles were reversed, I would be, too. It’s what short-track racing is. It’s where this all came from. It’s probably frustrating for them on that end, but it’s something we got done today.”
With two more races left in the three-race Round of 8, there is no guarantee Truex Jr. will have the opportunity to defend his 2017 championship. The team hasn’t won in 14 races, and despite being 25 points above the cutline, emotions will continue to run high as time ticks away to lock down a spot in Miami.
“I’m happy I don’t have a baseball bat or a jackhammer right now,” Pearn said with a wry smile.