James Small tabbed to replace Cole Pearn as Martin Truex Jr.'s crew chief

Martin Truex Jr. knows who his crew chief will be in 2020. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Joe Gibbs Racing has stayed in-house to replace Cole Pearn.

The team said Thursday that James Small would be Martin Truex Jr.’s crew chief in 2020. Small, the lead engineer for the No. 19 car in 2019, takes over for Pearn after Pearn said he was stepping down and leaving NASCAR earlier in the month.

“This is an incredible opportunity,” Small said in a team statement. “Having the confidence of [team owner Joe Gibbs], Martin and everyone at JGR means a lot to me. I moved to the United States six years ago to work in NASCAR and I wanted to work my way up to become a crew chief. I’m ready for this and I am excited about working with Martin and the foundation we have in place on the 19 team with the group of guys we have.”

Small keeps the international flavor atop Truex’s pit box. The Australian steps in for the Canadian who served as Truex’s crew chief for the past five seasons. Truex and Pearn have won 24 races over those five seasons as well as the 2017 championship.

Small worked at Furniture Row Racing in 2017 and 2018 before moving over to JGR with Pearn, Truex and others when FRR closed down and Truex became the driver of the No. 19 car in 2019.

“I know James well and feel very comfortable with him,” Truex said. “I feel like we approach racing very similar. He and Cole have a lot of similarities. It’s a natural fit and I’m really excited about it. I think he’ll do a great job.”

Truex has finished second in the points standings in each of the past two seasons following that 2017 title run. He was second to Joey Logano in 2018 and second to teammate Kyle Busch in November after dominating the first half of the race. Truex’s chances at the win slipped away during a mid-race pit stop when the left and right side front tires got put on the incorrect sides.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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