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Martin Truex’s win at Watkins Glen was a huge win for him entering the playoffs, but the win was also emotional for him and his crew.

Truex’s crew chief, Cole Pearn, lost his best friend four days before the race. Pearn’s friend, Jacob Damen, suddenly passed away at 35 from a bacterial infection. Pearn and Damen attended high school and college together, and Damen was scheduled to visit Pearn for next week’s race at Michigan.

Related: Martin Truex Jr. celebrated his Watkins Glen win by giving fans a real treat

Pearn said after the race that it was the hardest week of his life.


“It’s been probably the hardest week of my life and it’s not over yet,” Pearn said. “I lost my best friend growing up this week. He caught a random bacterial infection from a cut in his hand the day before. It doesn’t seem real. He’s got two little boys that will never know his dad. He was a heart of gold guy.

“I still haven’t come to terms with it to be honest.”

After the race, Truex said he knew how much a win would mean to Pearn after such a difficult week, and he knew Pearn wanted to win the race for his best friend, too. Truex said he’s proud to be able to accomplish something for his friend.

Shelley Pollex, Truex’s longtime girlfriend, was at the race Sunday for her first race back. Pollex had Stage 3 ovarian cancer, and Truex said his good luck charm was back when he and Pollex embraced after the win.

It was certainly an emotional victory for Truex and his crew as his dominant season continued, and he will look to pick up another victory Sunday at Michigan.

(h/t NASCAR.com)

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