Opinion: Furniture Row Not Acting Like One-Hit Wonder

Furniture Row Racing

General Manager Joe Garone said Friday that the team hopes to to announce its signing of Martin Truex Jr. next week to replace Kurt Busch. (Photo: Getty Images)

Furniture Row Racing could have taken a step back, could have stated that this season was fun but that the challenges of racing for a title were too much for a single-car operation.

That looked to be the direction the Denver, Colo.-based team would head after Kurt Busch announced his move to Stewart-Haas Racing for next season. Furniture Row Racing owner Barney Visser seemed interested in a Sprint Cup newcomer to replace Busch.

While that might have been good for years later, the likelihood that the team could return to the Chase immediately would have been slim. That plan, though, didn’t come to pass.

Then Juan Pablo Montoya became available. Just as soon, he was headed to the IndyCar Series. Then Martin Truex Jr. became available, part of the fallout from Michael Waltrip Racing’s attempt to manipulate the Richmond race. Finally, Furniture Row Racing found its driver. 

General Manager Joe Garone said Friday that the team hopes to to announce its signing of Truex next week.

“We really like what we see with Martin,’’ said Garone, who added that Truex would not join Furniture Row Racing before the end of the season.

As team officials examined drivers, Garone said the organization also spent time “looking at ourselves as a team and where we want to head.’’

By going with Truex instead of a younger driver, Visser is saying he’s all in for next year. Just like this year where Busch said the team “came in over budget.’’ That means Visser must find more money whether it’s from his pockets or additional sponsorship.

Finding money might be easier than making the Chase next year. Chase stalwarts Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart both suffered injuries this season that kept them from it. It’s not likely they’ll miss the Chase again, so which two teams drop out next year? Will it be an established team or Furniture Row Racing?

That’s what Visser, the team and Truex will face.

Then again, who thought Busch would make the Chase this year? Busch is seventh in the points heading into Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“Sixth is obtainable in the point standings very easily,’’ he said Friday. “Are we a top-five team? Maybe we are not, but the season has been a success. We have defied the odds. We have worked harder than anybody in this garage to get to this point. We don’t quite deserve a top-five finish. I’m not giving up on it.

“I would love to get into the top-five and to be part of that group that goes up on stage in Las Vegas. But honestly, if we can bring home sixth in the overall standings without a race win, it’s almost as good as a championship run from where this team was a year ago at this time.”

He’s right. The question is can this team be better? Maintaining the technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing helps.

Although Truex has made the Chase twice, he’s never finished in the top 10 in points. Still, his performance has increased steadily. He’s collected more top-fives and top-10 finishes the past two years than in any other two-year period in Cup. It’s time he help push a team to greater success, just as Busch has done this year.

Garone says that the team can be better for Truex.

“The start of the season we had a lot of wrecks and parts breaking and a lot of issues,’’ Garone said. “You take those out, we were in the Chase real solid. There’s a lot of places we’ve identified that we know we can be better at and we were able to, in the second half of the year, start overcoming a lot of those. Next season we’ll be able to hit it running.’’

They'll need to with the competition more difficult to make the Chase.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.

Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR” – will have live coverage of Sunday's Camping World RV Sales 500 from Talladega Superspeedway at 1 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MotorRacingNetwork.com.

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