Joe Gibbs Racing has chosen to promote from within to replace the recently departed Cole Pearn as the crew chief of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry team.
James Small will serve as the crew chief for the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. in 2020, the team announced Thursday, Dec. 19.
Small was the lead engineer for Truex in 2019 and has worked with Truex for the past three seasons, dating back to their tenure at Furniture Row Racing.
“This is an incredible opportunity,” Small said in a team release. “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 [No.] 19 team with the group of guys we have.”
A native of Melbourne, Australia, Small may be entering his first season as a full-time crew chief, but he has two previous experiences when he filled in as Erik Jones’ crew chief following Chris Gayle’s suspension in August 2017 at Furniture Row Racing. Small led Jones to a 10th-place finish at Watkins Glen International and a third-place finish at Michigan International Speedway.
Small spent eight years in the V8 Supercars Championship (now the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship) before moving to the United States. He first worked at Richard Childress Racing from 2014-2016 as an engineer. In 2017, he moved to Furniture Row Racing, where he served as the lead engineer for Jones and the No. 77 team before moving to Truex in 2018.
“I know James well and feel very comfortable with him,” Truex said. “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.”
Replacing Small as lead engineer on the No. 19 team will be Jeff Curtis, who joins JGR in 2020, after previously working with Truex at FRR.
The No. 19 team will be a part of the 2020 Busch Clash at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 9. The 2020 Cup season begins on Feb. 16 with the 62nd Daytona 500.