Erik Jones has himself a crew chief for 2017, when he will be a rookie in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driving the No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Toyota.
Chris Gayle, who has won 17 NASCAR XFINITY Series races as a crew chief, will leave Joe Gibbs Racing to partner with Jones and Furniture Row next year. Gayle has been an engineer and a crew chief for 14 years with JGR.
“We are thrilled to have Chris join our team and work with Erik next season,” said Joe Garone, Furniture Row Racing team president in statement released by the team Thursday morning. “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.”
In 2014, Gayle was the crew chief for Elliott Sadler at JGR, and last year 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 XFINITY Series have come this season — seven by Busch and one each by Denny Hamlin and Sam Hornish Jr. Gayle also was the crew chief when Jones won the 2015 XFINITY race at Chicagoland Speedway.
“This is a great opportunity to join a first-class team led by owner Barney Visser, who is deeply committed to provide the necessary resources to be successful in the Cup series,” said Gayle. “I also want to help Furniture Row Racing grow an already strong relationship with Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing. I look forward to moving to Denver — it’s an awesome city. My wife Brandi says she is more about mountains than beaches.”
A native of Little Rock, Ark., Gayle attended the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville for two years before transferring to the University of North Carolina Charlotte, where he graduated in 2002 with a mechanical engineering degree.