James Small named Martin Truex Jr.'s crew chief
When Martin Truex Jr. greets his crew chief every morning, don’t be surprised if he starts off by saying “G’day, mate.”
One week after Cole Pearn announced he was leaving Joe Gibbs Racing as crew chief on Truex’s No. 19 Toyota Camry, the organization announced Thursday that Melbourne, Australia native James Small has been promoted from Truex’s lead engineer to Pearn’s replacement as crew chief.
Small, 36, is no stranger to Truex, Pearn or the No. 19 team as a whole, having served in various capacities the past three seasons with Truex, dating back to Truex’s last two seasons with Furniture Row Racing in the No. 78 (2017-2018).
When Truex, Pearn and the team moved from the now-defunct FRR to Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2019 season, Small came along and was elevated to lead engineer, helping Truex to a series-best seven wins, as well as 15 top-five and 24 top-10 finishes.
Truex finished second to JGR teammate Kyle Busch in the final season standings. After Pearn’s departure, Truex discussed what he was looking for in a new crew chief. He apparently has found that with Small’s ascension to that role.
“This is an incredible opportunity,” Small said in a JGR media release. “Having the confidence of Coach (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.”
Truex took to Twitter to talk about Small’s promotion and his hopes for how the pair will fare in the upcoming 2020 season.
Truex also said in a media release, “I know James well and feel very comfortable with him. I feel like we approach racing very similar. He and Cole (Pearn) 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.”
While this will be Small’s first time as a full-time Cup crew chief, he previously filled in for two races as crew chief for Erik Jones in the latter’s Cup rookie season in 2017 with Furniture Row Racing.
Small displayed his prowess atop the pit box almost immediately, leading Jones to a third-place finish at Michigan International Speedway and a 10th-place finish at Watkins Glen International.
Small spent that entire 2017 season as Jones’ lead engineer with the No. 77 team before moving to Truex’s team in 2018.
Prior to coming to the U.S. and NASCAR, Small spent eight years working in his native Australia in the V8 Supercars Championship. His first role in NASCAR was in an engineering role from 2014-2016 with Richard Childress Racing.
Later Thursday afternoon, Small was a guest on SiriusXM Speedway with Dave Moody on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Here’s a tweet of some of his comments:
Joe Gibbs Racing also announced that Jeff Curtis has joined the organization and will assume Small’s former role as lead engineer for Truex’s car. In addition, the team also announced Blake Harris will return as car chief for the No. 19.
Pearn also tweeted about Small’s promotion: