Prior to last Sunday, the conventional wisdom for winning at Sonoma was to be the contender who was the first to make the last pit stop. That would give them the upper hand and the best chance to ultimately capture the checkered flag. The other contenders would have to quickly follow or have no chance at all, losing ground by the second to the man with fresher tires.

So, when Kevin Harvick hit the pit lane near the end of the Toyota/Save Mart 350  and Martin Truex, Jr. didn't, not for another nine laps, there might have a few people who thought his crew chief Cole Pearn had a hole in his head.

Turns out he really did.  

Smiling in victory lane, you couldn't miss the gash over Pearn's right eye. "I wish I was fighting a bear or a cougar or something cool, but my wife has been on me about building this treehouse for our kids."

"Anyways, I wanted nothing to do with it, but we were fortunate with the West Coast race we were able to fly out Friday morning, so I actually like had somewhat of a day off on Thursday and I decided to get involved. They kind of had it screwed up a bit from what they had done before, and we kind of took it all down and reset, and we were resetting like a four?by?four corner post, and I thought my wife had it and she didn't, and I walked away to get a clamp and she yelled my name and I turned right into it and basically got KO'd by it.  It went right down to my skull, bled a lot, and had to get stitched on the inside, then on the outside.  Was back in about an hour, and I worked until about 9:00 Thursday night and I finished the stupid thing."

Then he went to Sonoma and did something really smart.  He snookered one of the best tacticians in the business Kevin Harvick's crew chief Rodney Childers. "Without the strategy, it was going to be a hell of a battle, I think, but just to race with those guys is awesome.  Rodney and Kevin are amazing and they do a great job.  It's fun racing with them, and when you come out on top, you know you beat the best."

And it took an Academy Award-winning performance to pull it off with Pearn acting like everything was on the up and up on the radio when he first called Truex into the pits and then calling it off when he had duped Harvick into making a pit stop earlier than they might have wanted.  He didn't have a special code to clue in Truex, just his driver's total trust.

"Cole and I have a great relationship," said Truex.  "I never question him when he's calling races, and when he has things going on when he's talking to me in the car, it's just, okay ?? it's yes or no answers for me.  So yeah, he told me to pit, and I was like, okay, I'm going to pit, and then he said, don't pit, so I'm like, fine, I'm just going to stay out."

"He said we were going to run nine more, I knew the situation I was in sort of because any time somebody pits before you at a track like this, you know you're going to be on older tires, so I was just like, okay, let's just maximize ?? I want to maximize the time I lose by not making any mistakes, making sure I get everything I can every lap, and if I catch traffic, make sure I time it right and get by him.  So, it worked out good, but when he said pit and then stay out, I wasn't sure what was going on, to be honest.  I just did what he said." 

With Harvick's tires half wore out, it didn't take Truex that long to reel him in and Harvick didn't put up any fight, waving the white flag and then heading to pit road to get stickers because if the caution came out then he would have the advantage again.  The yellow, however, never waved again with Truex cruising to his 18th career victory by over 10 seconds.

When he climbed out of Furniture Row Racing 5-Hour Energy Toyota, Truex gave Pearn a big hug and they grinned at each other, the way two people who've pulled off the perfect trick.  "We're in California.  They went to acting school this week.  They were in LA for a couple days on the off-weekend learning how to do screenplays and such," Truex joked.

Perhaps, though, team president Joe Garone summed it up best while playfully picking at Pearn. "He probably wouldn't have made that call if he wouldn't have been hit in the head."

Let's go with that.  It makes for a far more interesting tale and I'll be able to tell someone truthfully one day about the time at Sonoma a driver won because his crew chief literally had a hole in his head.

Not to mention…

Hello Hollywood? Have we got a great idea for a movie.  It's the racing version of "The Sting".