Champion crew chief Cole Pearn, one of the leading figures atop NASCAR pit boxes, caused a Silly Season stir late Monday with his departure from Joe Gibbs Racing.
The Canada-born Pearn cited spending more time with his family as the reason for his departure. Pearn spent five years as the crew chief for driver Martin Truex Jr., a pairing that was among the most successful in recent NASCAR history.
Pearn started with Colorado-based Furniture Row Racing in 2010 as a race engineer. He was promoted to crew chief in 2015, kicking off a tenure that netted 17 wins and the 2017 Cup Series championship for Barney Visser’s No. 78 group. He added seven more wins with Truex last season, their first with JGR’s No. 19 team.
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Pearn’s dry sense of humor was one of his calling cards, as was his understated but often acerbic social-media presence. But the other trademarks were his savvy in the garage and a chemistry that clicked with Truex, who toasted his crew chief on social media Monday evening.
“I cannot say enough good things about Cole and what he has meant for my career,” Truex said in a release provided by the team. “I appreciate his hard work and dedication to our race team over the past six years going back to when he was my engineer at Furniture Row. Our friendship is what matters most to me and I’m happy that he’s doing what’s best for him and his family.”
The personnel move opens a high-profile vacancy with an organization that set a single-season record with 19 wins in the 2019 campaign. Pearn was the No. 19 team’s fourth crew chief in five years, following Darian Grubb, Dave Rogers and Scott Graves. The organization indicated that Pearn’s successor would be announced at a later date.
Truex is the third driver of the JGR No. 19 Toyota, which began competition when Coach Joe Gibbs expanded to a four-team operation in 2015.
Carl Edwards was the No. 19’s first driver, scoring five wins in 2015-16 before his surprise retirement before the 2017 season. Daniel Suarez replaced him and drove the No. 19 for two years before he was succeeded by Truex after Furniture Row disbanded.
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