John Locher/Associated Press
FRR Withdraws Appear of Cole Pearn
These are never the types of vacations you want, but it appears Cole Pearn, crew chief to the No. 78 car, will serve his suspension for a roof-flap violation following the Atlanta race, according to NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce.
Joe Gibbs Racing, which has an alliance with Furniture Row, ships director of fabrications Todd Berrier to the No. 78 pit box for the race in Phoenix.
FRR team president Joe Garone said, per Bruce, “Todd knows our system very well. He has worked with Martin, Cole, the majority of our crew and Toyota.”
It’s only the fourth race of the season, and Martin Truex is driving like a champion. Serving this suspension quickly puts it in the past and allows the No. 78 team to resume regular activity in Fontana.
Will Kevin Harvick’s Dominance Continue?
Harvick has won five of the last seven runnings at PIR and finished second and 13th in the other two during that stretch.
But there’s a wrench that could jam up the gears for Harvick at PIR. USA Today’s Brant James wrote, “Unless the new lower downforce package completely invalidates crew chief Rodney Childers’ notes and Harvick’s feel for the place, he should be expected to thrive there again.”
That said, Harvick’s been driving fine so far this year, good enough to be third in the standings.
Then again, maybe things aren’t as good. He’s the master of leading laps, and this year, he’s led only 132 laps for 16.5 percent of all laps driven.
The past two seasons, he led 21 and 23 percent of all laps. No cause for alarm; just food for thought.
What’s the Status of Tony Stewart’s Back?
Tony Stewart’s farewell season hasn’t even begun yet. Thanks to a burst fracture of the ol’ L1 vert, Stewart has yet to compete.
His timetable for a return comes down to a crucial X-ray to be taken Wednesday. Stewart said in Jared Turner’s FoxSports.com story:
That's the first time since the surgery that we'll have an update, have a progress report. But for a month now, I haven't done anything but just kind of chill out. The doctors want me lying in bed and walking. They don't want me sitting and standing. I'm definitely breaking the rules.
That makes you question his earnestness for a quick return to racing. Why break the doctor’s rules? Maybe it’s a compulsion, a constant need to test authority, even if testing that authority runs counter to his recovery.
Either way, we’ll have a better idea of when Stewart will suit up again and if he can do what Kyle Busch did a year ago: win a race and crack the top 30. Two big ifs for Smoke.