In his former role as a driver and his current role as a broadcaster for NBC Sports, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a keen perspective on the inner workings of the NASCAR “Silly Season” carousel. Wednesday morning, he used that insight to lob a prediction about a major personnel move that may or may not be drawing near.
On the heels of yesterday’s news that defending Monster Energy Series champ Martin Truex Jr. and his crew chief, Cole Pearn, will be on the move next season, Earnhardt opened up on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” about a potential 2019 shift to Joe Gibbs Racing — a theory that would directly impact Daniel Suarez and JGR’s No. 19 team.
“It’s definitely going to move a lot of things around on the competition side with Truex and Cole Pearn going to Gibbs,” Earnhardt told SiriusXM. “It’ll be interesting to see where Daniel ends up, and where Daniel goes moves another domino and so forth. I think that this’ll be one of the most interesting offseasons or silly seasons that we’ve had in many, many years. Seems like there’s a piece of news or new domino falling every single day, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens through the rest of the year.”
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Furniture Row Racing announced Tuesday that it would cease operations at season’s end, leaving driver, crew chief and other team personnel in limbo. Earnhardt speculated that whichever team brings Truex into the fold would strive to keep the chemistry of the driver-crew chief pairing with Pearn intact.
Pearn joined Furniture Row in 2015, one year after Truex landed at the Colorado-based organization. They have combined for 17 Monster Energy Series victories together, including the 2017 championship.
“I think they’ll both stick together and they’ll end up in the 19, more than likely. I think they both complement each other,” Earnhardt said. “I believe that Martin Truex Jr. is as good as anybody in the series, but without a great crew chief, no driver is going to be as competitive as they could be and reach their potential, so they both complement each other. I think they’re a good package if they can stick together.
“I worked with Martin for a long time and we’ve been friends for a long time, and I’ve always thought a lot about his ability. He’s a guy that comes to work, does his job. Anything that they ask of him outside the race car, he does. He’s no-nonsense.”