Team Preview: Furniture Row Racing
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on February 12, 2017 | 9:00 A.M. EST
Martin Truex Jr. returns in the team’s flagship No. 78 Toyota and will be joined by rookie Erik Jones, who is set to pilot the brand new No. 77 entry.
Furniture Row Racing attacks the track with a two-car Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team in 2017.
Martin Truex Jr. returns in the team’s flagship No. 78 Toyota and will be joined by rookie Erik Jones, who is set to pilot the brand new No. 77 entry. After years of speculation whether the organization would at some point expand from a single car team, the time was right to double things up at Furniture Row this season.
“We’ve said all along we weren’t going to make the jump until we could do it properly,” said Joe Garone, president of Furniture Row Racing. “Our partnership with Toyota and alignment with Joe Gibbs Racing last year went tremendously and when the opportunity to get Erik to come over and have 5-Hour Energy come on board as a sponsor came together, everything clicked.
Jones has worked his way through NASCAR’s top tier in the Camping World Truck Series and the XFINITY Series. While he’s made a handful of Cup starts, notably as one of the injured Kyle Busch’s replacements in 2015, Jones understands the challenge that lies ahead.
“It was a big learning curve for me doing those few Cup races,” said Jones, who will have veteran crew chief Chris Gayle calling the shots. “It’s a totally different aero package from then to what I’m going to be driving there next year. I always felt we had decent speed, but a lot of it was putting the whole race together and all the little things, what you would call special teams. Green flag stops, making sure you’re hitting all those things right was the hardest part for me.
“It’s going to be a lot to add, learning that, getting better at that stuff. That’s things I’ve been trying to work on to try to get better this year. But there’s a lot of things I can take from those few races that I’m going to be able to work on some more. It’s a big jump. You’re going from a field from where 10 to 12 cars can win to a field where 20 cars can win. All those guys are extremely talented. Definitely going to be tough. But I think I’m definitely in a good situation to succeed.”
Truex Jr. returns with the bulk of his team intact including crew chief Cole Pearn. He’s been at times one of the most dominant drivers in the series over the past two years but has not been able to put together a championship run. But Truex Jr. is optimistic he’ll again be very competitive in 2017 and the addition of Jones and a second team will pay dividends.
“Erik is a talented young driver and he’ll do great,” Truex Jr. said. “I think we’ll be just as strong as we’ve been. What we need is for some bad luck to disappear and for us to take advantage of the times when we have such a s good car and capitalize on those opportunities.”
Some of those opportunities will include the new format that will see races broken into three stages this year. Truex Jr. believes that will be a big benefit to his team.
''We've got some different rules this year that I think will benefit our team,'' Truex said. ''For us, I think it's a welcome change. I think the fans are really going enjoy it once we roll them out. I'm excited about taking points to the playoffs. I think that will be a big deal for our team.''
Daytona International Speedway will open for NASCAR teams on Friday, Feb. 17, with the season-opening Daytona 500 scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 26. Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" will have live coverage of "The Great American Race" beginning at 1 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com and on the MRN App.
Previous Team Previews
- Go Fas Racing
- Leavine Family Racing
- BK Racing
- Germain Racing
- Front Row Motorsports
- Richard Petty Motorsports
- Roush Fenway Racing
- Wood Brothers Racing
- JTG Daugherty Racing
- Richard Childress Racing
Up Next: Motor Racing Network will preview Chip Ganassi Racing on Monday, Feb. 13.