We all love an underdog, and the No. 78 has been shining in 2015 as no other underdog has this year. Already, the team has a win under its belt. Pair that stat with Martin Truex, Jr.’s astounding fourteen top 10’s for the season and you have a car on its way to the head table in Las Vegas. There’s just one more thing…they are a single-car team. There’s no corporate racing high-rise headquarters, or garages that build one car while across the street more engineers craft another. They are lighting up the Sprint Cup Series on their own. Well, almost.
Once Truex parked their Chevy in Victory Lane at Pocono, the heat cranked up for a whole bunch of people behind the scenes at Furniture Row Racing. Martin Truex, Jr. is on the back end of his two-year contract with the team. He likes what the team is doing. He’d like to stay, if the right contract can come together. Furniture Row is ecstatic! They won! And are performing like other multi-car teams with a lengthy list of championship trophies on their shelves. Yes, they’d love to keep the kid from New Jersey.
This is where the small team that operates outside of the Charlotte, NC NASCAR bubble starts to struggle. They will have to fight a little harder to put together the sponsor packages needed to keep Truex in the seat. It can’t be denied their reputation has been built on performance, not a snazzy paintjob. However, a little bit of pizzazz never hurts when courting more money. Even their driver does better behind the wheel than in front of a camera. We’ve come to know Martin as an affable guy, but not necessarily the best salesman. Did you really believe he had the Napa Know-How, or were you just laughing at the absurdity of those spots?
Also, while the deal with RCR regarding chassis and engines has worked wonderfully for the car over the last two years, the consistently awesome appearances by the No. 78 has got Toyota eyeing them as well. Would it be a good idea for Furniture Row to switch manufacturers when the last eleven Cups were awarded to Chevrolet? On the other hand, it’s beginning to become imperative for Toyota to attain the highest accolade for NASCAR, but do they think adding a single car team to their stable will make that happen any faster than the track Gibbs and Co. is on?
The last time there was this much buzz for an underdog team’s decision process, we were welcoming Gene Haas into the NASCAR ranks. From our sofas we determine what can and cannot happen. Well, it’s pretty much a given that no single car team can expect to be sitting second in the points fifteen races into the regular season. What we are seeing is absolutely the kind of performance that often heralds the start of a new era.
Will Furniture Row snag some big money sponsorships for 2016? Probably. Will Martin Truex, Jr. re-sign with the No. 78? Most likely. Will Toyota manage to sway the team from the mother ship of Chevrolet? Don’t you believe it. Even though the offered carrot dangled before the Furniture Row machine’s eyes will be mighty big, the proven performance of their current packages should not be cast aside in hopes of finding a higher spot on the manufacturer support map.
Martin Truex, Jr. and Co. know one thing right now–their machine ain’t broke. It don’t need fixing. They just gotta keep doing what they are doing so well. If they do, the unthinkable just might happen. A single car team–a true underdog–could win the 2016 Sprint Cup Championship. Then all worries will be over, theirs and NASCAR’s.
We were all kids at some point. While wandering the flea markets of Maine this past weekend, I fished through a giant bowl of Hot Wheels and assorted die-cast. There at the bottom I found it. No nicks or scratches. A No. 6 winged sprint car with Jeff Gordon’s name on the side. When did he drive it? Well, Racing Champions put it out in ’97. I’ll have to do some more research to determine what series he drove in it. Meanwhile, my inner child is content for a mere dollar.
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