Crew chief Small has something of his own to prove in moving on from Truex

Crew chief James Small is embracing the opportunity to work with Chase Briscoe next season at Joe Gibbs Racing because there is common ground between the two.

“I think our goals … we obviously both have a lot to prove,” Small said of his new driver for next season. “So, I’m super excited and looking forward to next season and prove what we can do to everybody.”

Briscoe will replace Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 19 Toyota Camry next season. The 43-year-old Truex informed owner Joe Gibbs of his intention to retire from full-time NASCAR competition earlier this month. Gibbs was already working on having Briscoe ready to sign a contract if Truex did decide to retire and the 29-year-old was signed later that same day.


Small (pictured at left, above, with Truex) has been the crew chief of the No. 19 car since 2020. The ’25 season will be the first time he’s worked with someone other than Truex.

“We’re all super excited on the team, obviously,” Small said. “We’ve been a little bit in limbo every year trying to work out which way he [Truex] was going to go, but now it allows us to build for the future, and Chase is an amazing talent. I didn’t know him at all until last week; spent an hour with him, and we had a really good chat.”

As a crew chief, Small has eight victories with Truex. Briscoe has one victory since becoming a Cup Series driver in 2021, and he isn’t downplaying the pressure of performing in Gibbs equipment. If things don’t go well, Briscoe believes his career is over.

There is a similar feeling for Small, who wants to show that he and his team can succeed without Truex. The two have not only worked together as crew chief and driver, but Small has a history with Truex dating back to Furniture Row Racing when he was a team engineer. All of his success, thus far, has been tied to Truex, who has put together a Hall of Fame career.

So, when Small openly expresses that Briscoe isn’t the one with something to prove, it’s tied to his résumé. Small was the protégé of Cole Pearn, and it was a natural fit to step into the crew chief role when Pearn left racing.

“I think maybe a little bit (of it is) the way I got this job originally,” Small said. “Working with Martin, he’s a legend and coming into that. I feel like maybe people think he’s awesome and everything, but we really believe in ourselves as a team and we know we can do it without him.

“I was just touching on that. We want to prove that we can do it by ourselves, and Chase is the absolute perfect driver to do that with.”

Story originally appeared on Racer