Joe Gibbs Racing makes it official: Martin Truex Jr. and Cole Pearn will race the No. 19
Joe Gibbs Racing made the worst-kept secret in NASCAR official on Wednesday.
Reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship-winning driver and crew chief combination Martin Truex Jr. and Cole Pearn will join the No. 19 entry for the 2019 season. They will replace driver Daniel Suarez, who has yet to divulge his plans for next season.
"Anytime you have an opportunity to bring two people of this caliber into your organization, it’s certainly an exciting time," said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. "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 has done for Joe Gibbs Racing over these past several years. 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 are currently paired on the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team, where they have worked together since the 2015 season. Together, they have amassed 17 victories together and the 2017 championship.
Truex has 19 overall victories at the highest level of the discipline, including four this season, where he is still eligible for the 2018 championship.
In a sense, Truex is keeping his band together at Joe Gibbs Racing following the summer announcement that Furniture Row Racing would shut down at the end of the season due to a lack of funding. Joe Gibbs Racing increased its satellite team charges to Furniture Row, which also lost sponsorship from 5 Hour Energy.
That was enough to sink the Barney Visser-owned team that had just won the championship.
"I want to personally thank Martin and Cole for their contributions in making Furniture Row Racing a championship-caliber team," Visser said. "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. But 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."
The transition should be largely seamless next season for Truex.
"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."
Pearn remains focused on going back to back, but that goal is much easier when everyone will work together again next season.
"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," Pearn added. "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."
Sponsorship is expected to include Bass Pro Shops and Auto-Owners Insurance, carryovers from Furniture Row.