HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – Joe Gibbs Racing announced Wednesday that defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. and crew chief Cole Pearn will join the organization’s No. 19 Toyota team next season.
“Anytime you have an opportunity to bring two people of this caliber into your organization, it’s certainly an exciting time,” said team owner Joe Gibbs. “They obviously have developed a chemistry that has led to tremendous success, including a championship. We’ve gotten to know them well over the past few years through the alliance and having been part of the Toyota family. They both make us stronger as an organization.
“We really appreciate everything Daniel (Suárez) has done for Joe Gibbs Racing over these past several years,” Gibbs added. “He has made the most of every opportunity, from winning the championship in the Xfinity Series to making the jump into the Cup Series for us. We look forward to hearing about his plans going forward and know he continues to have a bright future in our sport.”
Truex and Pearn have been teamed together on the No. 78 team since 2015. Truex has 19 career Cup Series wins, including a career-high eight victories in his championship season. He currently has four wins this season and remains in contention for this year’s title.
Pearn was elevated to his current role as crew chief for the No. 78 following the 2014 season after serving as the lead race engineer. The team has captured 17 wins in the nearly four seasons since that time.
“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to join Joe Gibbs Racing,” said Truex. “Obviously to be able to make this transition and still be able to work alongside Cole is something that was very important to me. There is also a real comfort level working with the JGR team and I wanted to stay in the Toyota family. We still have big goals for the remainder of this season, but it’s nice to know what we will be doing in 2019.”
“I’m extremely proud of everything we’ve been able to accomplish over the past few years out of Denver and the move to JGR will make the transition for 2019 an easy one,” added Pearn. “It’s a great organization with a lot of great people and a leadership team that wants to win. We still have work to do this season of course, but it’s nice to finally make our plans official for 2019.”
With two races remaining this season, Truex and Pearn sit third in the playoff standings, 25 points clear of elimination entering Sunday’s penultimate playoff race at ISM Raceway in Arizona.
Their current employer, Furniture Row Racing team owner Barney Visser, issued a statement acknowledging what both men have brought to his team on Wednesday.
“I want to personally thank Martin and Cole for their contributions in making Furniture Row Racing a championship-caliber team,” said Visser. “There’s no doubt in my mind that they will continue to be a winning driver/crew chief combination with Joe Gibbs Racing. They are outstanding representatives for NASCAR and I am proud to have been associated with them.
“Before Martin and Cole depart for a new endeavor, we still have two races remaining, and hopefully we will be celebrating another championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.”
Sponsorship for Truex’s No. 19 Toyota is still being formulated and will be announced at a later date.