James Small will serve as Martin Truex Jr.’s crew chief beginning in 2020, Joe Gibbs Racing announced Thursday.
Small, 36, replaces Cole Pearn, who announced Dec. 9 that he was stepping away from racing to spend more time with his family.
Lead engineer on the No. 19 Toyota team in 2019, Small has worked with Truex in some capacity for the last three seasons. That includes both of their tenures at Furniture Row Racing.
“This is an incredible opportunity,” said Small. “Having the confidence of Coach [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.”
Before to moving to the United States, Small worked in Australia in the Supercars Championship. He began his NASCAR career in an engineering role with Richard Childress Racing in 2014. In 2017, Small joined Furniture Row where he was the lead engineer for the No. 77 team with Erik Jones.
Before transitioning to Truex’s team in ’18, Small got a taste of being a NASCAR Cup Series crew when he filled in for Chris Gayle in two races. Small guided Jones to a 10th-place finish at Watkins Glen and a third-place effort at Michigan.
“I know James well and feel very comfortable with him,” said Truex. “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.”
Joe Gibbs Racing also announced that Truex will reunite with Jeff Curtis, who he also worked with at Furniture Row. Curtis spent the ’19 season with Kurt Busch at Chip Ganassi Racing and will become Truex’s lead engineer.