The rumors are now official: Martin Truex Jr. will be teaming up with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2019. The defending NASCAR Cup champ, who was looking for a team after Denver-based Furniture Row Racing announced in August it was shuttering after the 2018 season, will replace Daniel Suarez on the No. 19 team.
Truex, who had been with Furniture Row for five seasons, will be bringing his crew chief Cole Pearn along with him.
"Anytime you have an opportunity to bring two people of this caliber into your organization, it's certainly an exciting time," said Joe Gibbs, the team owner and Pro Football Hall of Fame coach, in a team release. "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 four wins and four poles this season and is still in contention for a repeat title entering the Round of 8 finale this weekend in Phoenix. His new teammate at JGR will be Kyle Busch, the 2018 regular season champion who won a NASCAR Cup title in 2015.
Truex, 38, has four wins and four Busch Pole Awards this year for Furniture Row, which operates in partnership with JGR. He has won 19 times on NASCAR's top circuit, with all but two wins coming with Furniture Row. His performance this season has him among the championship contenders heading into the Round of 8 finale this weekend at ISM Raceway in Phoenix.
"I'm really excited to have the opportunity to join Joe Gibbs Racing," Truex, Jr. said in the same statement. "Obviously to be able to make this transition and still be able to work alongside Cole is something that was very important to me. There is also a real comfort level working with the JGR team and I wanted to stay in the Toyota family. We still have big goals for the remainder of this season, but it's nice to know what we will be doing in 2019."
Despite Truex contending for a second-consecutive championship in the No. 78 this season, the Furniture Row team took a huge blow earlier in 2018 when it was announced that primary sponsor 5-hour Energy would not return for 2019.
FRR GM Joe Garone: "It’s bad, man. It needs to be a wake-up call. It’s a wake-up call to us. There needs to be a runway when a partner leaves. It’s unfortunate, for sure. Had 5-Hour not quit, we’d still be racing. That’s the truth."— Adam Stern (@A_S12) September 4, 2018
- (Via @DenverPost) pic.twitter.com/FgNmss9N8d
"This is not good for anybody," team owner Barney Visser said in a statement. "The numbers just don't add up. I would have to borrow money to continue as a competitive team and I'm not going to do that. This was obviously a painful decision to arrive at knowing how it will affect a number of quality and talented people."
"We've been aggressively seeking sponsorship to replace 5-hour Energy and to offset the rising costs of continuing a team alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing but haven't had any success. I feel that it's only proper to make the decision at this time to allow all team members to start seeking employment for next year."
Truex's move to the No. 19 now leaves Suarez without a ride for 2019.
"We really appreciate everything Daniel (Suárez) has done for Joe Gibbs Racing over these past several years," Gibbs said in teh same statement. "He has made the most of every opportunity from winning the championship in the Xfinity Series to making the jump into the Cup Series for us. We look forward to hearing about his plans going forward and know he continues to have a bright future in our sport."