Gayle tapped as Erik Jones' crew chief for rookie Cup season

A familiar face will lead Erik Jones’ team when he embarks on his Sprint Cup Series rookie season in 2017.

Gayle tapped as Erik Jones' crew chief for rookie Cup season
Erik Jones, Furniture Row Racing Toyota, Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Erik Jones, Furniture Row Racing Toyota unveil
Chris Gayle, crew chief of Erik Jones, Furniture Row Racing
Erik Jones, Furniture Row Racing Toyota unveil
Erik Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Furniture Row Racing announced Thursday it has hired Chris Gayle as crew chief for its second fulltime entry in the Cup series next year with Jones, who currently competes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Gayle, a 17-time winner in the Xfinity Series, currently serves as crew chief on JGR’s No. 18 team in that series. A longtime engineer at JGR, he was promoted to crew chief in 2013.

“We are thrilled to have Chris join our team and work with Erik next season,” said Joe Garone, Furniture Row Racing team president. “His crew chief record in the Xfinity Series has been impressive, but more importantly his record proves that he knows what it takes to win a race.

“It’s a great fit with Chris coming from Joe Gibbs Racing with whom we have a technical alliance. This hire has all the makings of a seamless transition for Chris since he has already worked with Erik and has a thorough understanding of the Toyota affiliation.”

Gayle’s first two Xfinity seasons as crew chief were with driver Elliott Sadler. In 2015, he served as the crew chief for the No. 54 Toyota, working with a number of drivers after Kyle Busch was injured in the season opener at Daytona. He also has worked with multiple drivers this season on the No. 18 JGR Toyota.

Nine of Gayle’s 17 wins in the series have come this season – seven by Kyle Busch and one each by Denny Hamlin and Sam Hornish Jr. Gayle also served as the crew chief when Jones won the 2015 Xfinity race at Chicagoland.

“I have had the opportunity to work with Erik in the Xfinity Series and there is no doubt in my mind that he has an incredible future in the Cup Series,” said Gayle, 40. “His talent and maturity are beyond his years and there’s not a better young driver to work with as I begin a new chapter in my career.”

Jones, 20, said he was excited about the choice.

“I have worked with Chris and we have a mutual respect for each other. I feel we have an opportunity to have a good year together, and at the same time, build a team from the ground up,” he said.

Gayle and his family – wife Brandi and 19-month-old daughter Cora – will move to Denver where he will start working out of the Furniture Row Racing shop following the 2016 campaign. Gayle graduated from UNC Charlotte in 2002 with a mechanical engineering degree.

 

 

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