Sponsorship is the name of the game in NASCAR, and now it’s affecting the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr.
In mid-July, 5-hour Energy announced it wouldn’t be returning to Furniture Row Racing in 2019, after spending 2017 and 2018 with the team. Through 23 races this season, the company has been the primary sponsor of the No. 78 car for nine races, winning at Sonoma Raceway.
On Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway, Truex couldn’t confirm whether he will be back at Furniture Row Racing next year or not.
“Honestly, I really don’t know. I think in another week or two I’ll have a better answer for you,” Truex said in a press conference. “Right now, we need sponsorship and that’s as simple as it gets. It’s hard to say, is there a 50 percent chance we get that in a couple weeks or a hundred percent chance or two percent, I don’t know. I can tell you that everything is based upon that.”
Truex is also in the final year of his current contract with Furniture Row Racing, the team he’s competed with since the beginning of 2014. In four-and-a-half years together, the No. 78 team has won 17 races.
The driver admitted he’s beginning to hear “rumors” of where his future may lie.
“That’s kind of how it works in this sport, I’ve been in this position before,” he said. “I’ve got a great team – Barney [Visser, team owner] has done a lot for my career. It’s something we all want to keep going and just need a little bit of time to let the dominoes fall into place and see if we can keep it going and if not, I have to figure it out from there.”
Between 2005 and 2015, Visser sponsored the No. 78 car out of his own pockets with Furniture Row being stamped on the car. This season is the first time since FRR’s inception that the team is fully-funded.
Despite the rumors and uncertainty, Truex has won four races this year, sitting third in the championship standings.
“I would say that the biggest thing for us as a group because we’ve kind of been in this situation before, really the past couple seasons we’ve been at a tipping point at some point in time and we’ve just been able to focus on doing our jobs,” Truex said. “We always feel like that at the end of the day, if we do our jobs and we do them well and we’re winning races, that’s our best opportunity to keep things going the way they are.”
The Cup Series is racing at Bristol this weekend where Truex has a best finish of second.