By David Morgan, Associate Editor
When the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season begins, the No. 19 team at Joe Gibbs Racing will have a new leader atop the pit box after crew chief Cole Pearn announced Monday he will be stepping down and leaving NASCAR to pursue opportunities outside the sport.
In the team release detailing Pearn’s departure, he cited a familiar theme of wanting to spend more time with his family away from the grueling NASCAR schedule as one of the main reasons for his decision.
“This was an incredibly difficult decision,” Pearn said. “At the end of the day, I really want to spend time with my family and actually see my kids grow up. Being on the road, you are away from home so much and miss a lot of time with your family. I don’t want to miss that time anymore. I want to be there for all the things that my kids are going to experience while they are still young.
“I love racing and there isn’t a better place to be than Joe Gibbs Racing, but I don’t want to look back in 20 years and think about everything I missed with my wife and kids while I was gone. They are what is most important to me.”
Since joining forces in 2015, the dynamic duo of Pearn and driver Martin Truex, Jr. have been one of the more dominant pairings in all of NASCAR, with the two winning 17 races and the 2017 series championship with Furniture Row Racing before moving in-house at JGR this season.
The two didn’t miss a beat in 2019, winning seven races, along with 15 top-five finishes, and 24 top-10 finishes, to end the season as the runner-up in the title fight for the second year in a row.
“I cannot say enough good things about Cole and what he has meant for my career,” Truex said. “I appreciate his hard work and dedication to our race team over the past six years going back to when he was my engineer at Furniture Row. Our friendship is what matters most to me and I’m happy that he’s doing what’s best for him and his family.”
As for who takes over the vacated crew chief role at JGR, the team noted in their release that they will announce Pearn’s replacement at a later date.