Gibbs signs Truex after Fur­ni­ture Row leaves rac­ing

Merced Sun-Star - - Sports / Classified - BY JENNA FRYER

NASCAR cham­pion Martin Truex Jr. and his crew chief will move to Joe Gibbs Rac­ing next sea­son to re­main in the Toy­ota or­ga­ni­za­tion after their race team folds in two weeks.

Truex won his first Cup ti­tle last year driv­ing for Fur­ni­ture Row Rac­ing. Bar­ney Visser had funded the team out of pocket for most of its ex­is­tence but re­ceived re­lief help the last few sea­sons from spon­sor­ship.

When the pri­mary spon­sor of the No. 78 de­cided to leave NASCAR and Visser couldn’t find a re­place­ment, the owner de­cided to close be­cause he found it too ex­pen­sive to field a cham­pi­onship­con­tend­ing team with­out out­side fund­ing.

Truex will re­place Daniel Suarez as driver of the No. 19 team. Spon­sor­ship was not an­nounced.

“Any­time you have an op­por­tu­nity to bring two peo­ple of this cal­iber into your or­ga­ni­za­tion, it’s cer­tainly an ex­cit­ing time,” said team owner Joe Gibbs. “They ob­vi­ously have de­vel­oped a chem­istry that has led to tremen­dous suc­cess, in­clud­ing a cham­pi­onship. We’ve got­ten to know them well over the past few years through the al­liance and hav­ing been part of the Toy­ota fam­ily. They both make us stronger as an or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Truex has 19 Cup vic­to­ries, in­clud­ing a ca­reer­high eight vic­to­ries in last year’s cham­pi­onship sea­son. A mem­ber of the so-called Big Three that dom­i­nated NASCAR this sea­son, Truex has four vic­to­ries and goes to Phoenix this week­end in con­tention for a spot in the cham­pi­onship race. Only one of the three slots for the fi­nale has been filled, and Truex is above the cut­line to qual­ify for Homestead-Mi­ami Speed­way and a shot at de­fend­ing his ti­tle.

Pearn was pro­moted from lead en­gi­neer to crew chief for the No. 78 team in 2015 and has guided the team to 17 wins.

Suarez has 21 top-10 fin­ishes and one pole in two sea­sons with JGR.

He’s ranked 20th in the Cup stand­ings, the same place he fin­ished last year.

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