Motorsport.com’s Jim Utter reported this afternoon that defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex, Jr. will be moving to Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2019 season.
This comes just hours after the announcement that Truex, Jr.’s current team, Furniture Row Racing, would be closing its doors at the end of this season, citing “lack of necessary funds.”
Utter also reported that Truex, Jr.’s crew chief, Cole Pearn, would be making the move along with sponsor Bass Pro Shops.
No party involved has officially commented, per Utter.
Trickle Down Effect
With the possibility of Truex, Jr. joining JGR, it seems the odd man out there is Daniel Suarez, per Utter.
Suarez was thrust into the No. 19 car prior to the 2017 season, when incumbent Carl Edwards abruptly announced his retirement from racing shortly before the Daytona 500. Suarez was just coming off of winning the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship when he got the call up to the Cup series.
Where Suarez and his primary sponsor, Arris, go from here is not yet determined. There are rumored to be numerous teams that could possibly be in the market for a driver who brings sponsorship with them, including Chip Ganassi Racing (No. 1 car), Stewart-Haas Racing (No. 41 car) and Leavine Family Racing (No. 95 car).
It has also been rumored that Leavine Family Racing could be switching from Chevrolet to Toyota this offseason, which would make them a prime candidate for replacing Furniture Row Racing as the technical alliance partner of Joe Gibbs Racing. That would then make the transition for Suarez, and possibly Arris, to the No. 95 car relatively seamless.
Nothing has been confirmed at this time, but Joe Gibbs Racing is the most logical place for Truex, Jr. to land. Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row Racing have held a technical alliance in recent years, as the two primary teams running Toyota Camrys in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
It certainly helps the transition that Truex, Jr. is keen to retain Bass Pro Shops, per Utter. Of Truex, Jr.’s other two primary sponsors for this season, 5 Hour Energy had already announced it would not be returning to NASCAR. Their departure is believed to be the root cause of FRR shutting down. The other sponsor is Auto Owners Insurance, and it is unclear at this time whether they will be joining Truex, Jr. at his new team.
On top of Truex, Jr. moving from one powerhouse team to another, it seems he will be bringing crew chief Cole Pearn with him. The two have combined for 17 of Truex, Jr.’s 19 career wins across their tenure together, along with the 2017 Cup series championship. Pearn is known as a supreme strategist, including using clever radio communications this season at Sonoma Raceway to snooker the No. 4 team onto pit road and allow his driver to pull away for the win.