Team Preview: Furniture Row Racing

Kurt Busch

Busch, who ended the 2012 with three consecutive top 10s, will begin his first full season with Furniture Row Racing. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)

MotorRacingNetwork.com counts down to the start of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, and the running of the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway, with a series of team previews.  Next up is a look at Furniture Row Racing.

Furniture Row Racing looks to carry over the momentum from the end of last season as the team begins its first full season with driver Kurt Busch.

After starting 2012 with Phoenix Racing, Busch joined Furniture Row - replacing Regan Smith - with six races left on the schedule. He ended the year with three consecutive top 10s, marking the first time in the eight-year history of the one-car organization it accomplished that feat.

"It's what we have to continue to do," Busch said about his top-10 runs. "We can't take any steps backwards. There’s pressure here like there is in any other organization to perform. (Owner) Barney Visser has put the investment into the program and he wants to see his love of the sport, as well as the investment he's made, come into play. We believe we're a competitive team and we're going to do the right things to position ourselves for a successful run."

Furniture Row Racing, which is based in Denver, Colo., will continue its technical and engineering alliance with Richard Childress Racing - a partnership that started in 2010. Mark McArdle, Furniture Row Racing’s executive director of competition, has helped strengthen the relationship between the two organizations.

"I'm now the director of racing operations at RCR under the new program Dr. Eric Warren has brought there," McArdle said. "As a consequence, it’s making both organizations even tighter with regards to their communication on a technical level. Additionally, it's recognition on (the part of) our organization here at Furniture Row that both groups have to get better together in order to be able to contend for Cup championships."

Busch was able to work with RCR right out of the gate in his first race with Furniture Row last fall at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"We have teammates to communicate with - (Kevin) Harvick, (Paul) Menard and (Jeff) Burton," Busch said. "I saw their notes right away when we raced at Charlotte together. It was if I was part of the team. They wanted to understand what I was thinking with the car. It was great to have those teammates right there, right away and we were off and running."

Pete Rondeau, who has had a number of roles at FRR since 2010, was recently promoted to competition director. He'll now oversee the building and preparation of the new Gen-6 Chevrolets at the race shop.

“With the tremendous gains Furniture Row Racing has made in recent years and the solid foundation it's built, the opportunity has never been better to reach a higher level of competition,” Rondeau said. “That's why I'm looking forward to this new challenge working with Mark (McArdle) and also with my counterparts at RCR.”

Furniture Row Racing is pleased with the results of its off-season testing with the new car.

"It's got an inherent aerodynamic balance with the package NASCAR has selected that we think is going to make for very good racing," McArdle said.

Busch echoes those sentiments.

Kurt Busch"It looks cool," he said. "With everything new, there’s that excitement level. We've always had that conflict of if the drivers like it, well maybe the fans aren’t going to like it. This is a package the teams are excited to work on, the marketing guys are excited to promote, the drivers want to drive it and the fans see the excitement."

Although Furniture Row Racing enjoyed some success with the Gen-5 car, including a win in the 2011 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, the team only came away with 11 top 10s since 2007.

"We consistently fought with the Gen-5 car to get enough turn in the center of the corner," McArdle said. "With some of things this (new) car has to offer, we should be able to do a bit more in that area."

Crew chief Todd Berrier, who joined Furniture Row last July after being the general manager at JTG/Daugherty Racing, is looking forward to picking right back up where the team left off in 2012.

"Getting to work with Kurt last year helped us a lot because going into this season, we're going to have our own uncertainties with the new car and the new rules," Berrier said. "For us, to put that to bed early and have a direction we need to go with ... we feel like we accomplished a lot by doing that.”

Berrier now lives in Colorado and will work out of Furniture Row's home base during the week.

"I like Colorado," Berrier said. "I like the new challenge, new faces; it's a whole new set of circumstances and so far, it rejuvenates you. There’s only racing out there for me, so that’s pretty cool. When you get home, you don’t have someone wanting to borrow something from your shop out behind your house or something like that. I'm pretty focused on racecars, right now."

The No. 78 team's pit crew will be based in the Charlotte, N.C., area and train at the Performance Instruction and Training facility in nearby Mooresville. Previously, Furniture Row utilized pit crews from other NASCAR teams, with the most recent coming out of Stewart-Haas Racing. (Read More)

The traditional black No. 78 Chevrolet will continue to see primary sponsorship from Furniture Row, one of the largest family-owned specialty home furnishing and bedding retailers in country. This season, the team has already secured associate sponsors for a number of races with mattress brands Sealy, Serta and Simmons Beautyrest.

"This year, everything for Furniture Row is aligned," said General Manager Joe Garone. "We feel strong right now. Having Kurt and Todd on board is icing on the cake. We're ready to perform at the highest level we ever have."

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, Kurt Busch

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