The writing had been on the wall for a long time, but Martin Truex Jr.‘s move to Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season is now official. On Wednesday, the team announced the 2017 champion would move to the #19 car, replacing Daniel Suárez.
“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to join Joe Gibbs Racing,” Truex stated. “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.”
In September, Truex’s team Furniture Row Racing announced it would be shutting down after the 2018 season, ending a successful five-year partnership that has seen 17 race wins and a championship. In 2018, Truex has four wins, twenty top tens, and is currently second in the standings.
Truex’s crew chief Cole Pearn will follow him to JGR. Pearn, the first full-time Canadian crew chief in the Cup Series, joined FRR in 2015, a year after Truex.
In 2016, FRR formed an alliance with JGR and Toyota Racing Development (TRD), which helped elevate the Denver-based team to one of the sports’s top organisations.
“Anytime you have an opportunity to bring two people of this caliber into your organization, it’s certainly an exciting time,” JGR owner Joe Gibbs said. “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 organisation.”
Pearn said, “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. 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.”
The 2016 Xfinity Series champion, Suárez joined JGR’s #19 in 2017 after Carl Edwards‘ sudden retirement. After finishing twentieth in points in his rookie year, he sits in the same position with two races remaining in 2018. In 70 career Cup races, he has 21 top tens, four top fives, a pole, and a best finish of second at Pocono Raceway in August 2018.
Gibbs commented, “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.”
Suárez has not announced his plans for 2019, but rumors have circulated about potentially replacing Kurt Busch in the #41 of Stewart-Haas Racing.