Cole Pearn shocked the NASCAR community Monday evening by announcing his resignation as crew chief at Joe Gibbs Racing — a day after delivering the surprising news to his driver, Martin Truex Jr.
“When he started talking, it was like in the back of my mind that, ‘This is not good. I feel like something big is about to come,’” said Truex (pictured at right, above, with Pearn) Wednesday night during a break in his foundation’s Toy Drive at Levine Children’s Hospital. “And sure enough, it was surprising for sure.”
In explaining his decision, Pearn said he wants to spend more time with his young children and will be moving to the Canadian mountains to bring the outdoors back into his family’s life.
It is a decision Truex both understands and respects. Truex began working with Pearn, an engineer at the time, when he joined Furniture Row Racing in 2014. Pearn was promoted to Truex’s crew chief in 2015, and the duo has been on a run of success ever since, which includes the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series championship.
“First and foremost, we’re great friends, and I have a lot of respect for him, and a lot of respect for the decision he made,” said Truex. “I understand. I understand the grind. I understand just how hard he has to work to produce the level of competition that he does. I’ve seen it first hand – just his hours and what he’s willing to do. I don’t know that there’s anyone in the garage willing to put as much work into racing as he did, and it just wore him out.
“You can only do that for so many years, I guess, and he’s ready to do something else. I wish him the best.”
Truex doesn’t doubt that he and Pearn will remain great friends. He also doesn’t question that should the No. 19 team need his help in any way, Pearn would be there.
Truex thought he’d get a couple of more years out of the 37-year-old Pearn, who he revealed said he was “sorry” about 15 times during their conversation.
“I know he feels somewhat like he let all of us down, but I told him, ‘Hey, you got to do what’s best for your family,’” Truex related. “We all understand, and all the guys will understand. We’ll go on and try to do the best we can with someone else filling his role.”
Although Joe Gibbs Racing has not revealed who Pearn’s replacement would be, Truex expects that will be decided quickly as “I think we know what we’re going to do.”
Of his 26 career wins, 24 have come under the guidance of Pearn. Whoever ends up filling those shoes will have to be able to pull information out of Truex.
“Especially when it comes to the cars and building the cars, and when they’re not good enough, how do you make them better?” said Truex. “He [Pearn] was really good at that. I feel good about the guys who we’re talking to — we’ve got a few options there, and hopefully it’ll work out. We’ll deal with it and move on and hopefully continue to have success.”
Truex said he couldn’t answer who he is without Pearn but feels they are a strong enough organization and strong enough people around his team to continue to get results.
“We’ll see how it goes, and I’ll do whatever it takes. Hopefully, we get the right guy in there to mesh with our team and with me and hopefully be able to continue the success.”