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4 Burning Questions: Is GMS Racing Buying Furniture Row Racing?

Is GMS Racing Buying Furniture Row Racing?

The year of unpredictable events continued on Thursday (Aug. 23), with Adam Stern reporting that Furniture Row Racing is discussing possibly selling the operation to GMS Racing.

If true, this will be just the second time in modern NASCAR history that a championship-winning team shut down after the following season. The only other time it happened was with 2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Alan Kulwicki, whose AK Racing team was eventually sold to Geoff Bodine after Kulwicki’s untimely death in a plane crash.

Certainly a huge factor in Visser’s decision to sell would be the lack of sponsorship. The loss of 5-hour Energy will reportedly cost the team $10 million next year, and it’s uncertain if it could find enough sponsorship to find it. It’s a lot easier to walk away with a championship than without it, with a pretty decent shot at a second still to come.

What does this mean for manufacturers? GMS has had a long relationship with Chevrolet, and it’s unlikely it would be interested in sticking with Toyota past its grandfathered contract (if it has one). Leavine Family Racing could end up being a big winner out of all of this, as it should be getting a huge influx of both cash and support from Toyota Racing Development.

It’s very unlikely the team would stay based in Denver, as GMS already has a shop in Statesville, N.C., and would presumably want everything under one roof. It’s heartbreaking for a lot of the shop workers at FRR, as they’d have to either leave the sport or move across the country to continue to work in an industry they conquered less than a year ago.

It would be stupid not to retain Cole Pearn. Pearn is probably the best crew chief in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series right now, and letting him walk would take the team back to simply being a top-10 team almost immediately.

As far as Martin Truex Jr. is concerned, it’s hard for him to go at this point unless Stewart-Haas Racing is interested in him in the No. 41, though there have been other rumors of where his future may lie.

What will Front Row Motorsports do with the assets of BK Racing?

With GMS Racing out of the running to pursue the purchase of the assets of BK Racing, Front Row Motorsports stepped in and closed on a $2.08 million deal for most of what’s left.

The deal was originally going to be finalized on Tuesday with some auction-style bidding, but with GMS out of the picture, it came down to just Front Row and original BK Racing owner Ron Devine. Devine complained in court about the sale and convinced the judge to have a final bidding period on Thursday.

Probably the most valuable thing auctioned off was the charter. It’s a sad fact in racing, but the things that are truly valuable to a race team are personnel, which you cannot put a price on in court or at an auction. Smart guys like Darrell Waltrip and Ricky Rudd probably lost their shirts when they decided to shut their teams down. Equipment will only last for so long, and BK’s fleet has been some of the most unreliable and worn-out in NASCAR.

Although Devine claimed he was looking at other venues to get back into the sport, it’s not likely he’ll be back. It’s always possible he could return for a one-off bid for Daytona International Speedway, but it’s hard to imagine anybody in NASCAR is ever going to give him the time of day again long term. He didn’t pay his employees, and according to Matthew Smith, who the court appointed trustee, his business records were “atrocious.”

Remember the time Devine actually claimed that his sponsorship deal with EarthWater was worth $10 million even though the company’s CEO claimed on LinkedIn that its sponsorship of BK through the first four races of the year was through free product? As in, (bottled) water from the Earth? It was a very timely sponsorship, considering the team lost nearly $10 million a year from 2014-2016.

As for Front Row, all we know for sure is that the No. 23 (or a renumbered No. 35) will be at the final 12 races of this season. Whether it’s a Toyota or a Ford remains to be seen.

How awesome will Bill Elliott be at Road America?

62-year-old Bill Elliott will be making a one-race comeback in XFINITY Series competition this week.

Elliott, an inductee of the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame class, will be joining a very exclusive club of sport HOF inductees who return to active competition. Not counting non-athletes such as Joe Gibbs, Elliott will be just the fourth to do so across all major sports in North America.

Elliott’s lone race will be at Road America, one of the oldest road courses in the country. Awesome Bill was never renowned as Road Course Bill; only one of his 44 Cup wins came on a road course. But like his son/spotter Chase Elliott, the first of those 44 came at a road course — in Bill’s case, the old Riverside International Raceway. He also has a combined six top-five finishes at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

The opportunity presented itself when Spencer Gallagher was suspended from NASCAR following his win at Talladega Superspeedway earlier in the season. Multiple drivers subbed for Gallagher while he went through NASCAR’s Road to Recovery, including Chase Elliott. Even after Gallagher returned, the subs have continued, partially because of prior commitments GMS scheduled and partially because Gallagher is no longer eligible to compete in the playoffs.

I’ve been looking forward to this race ever since it was announced. Unlike the last few years of his career, Elliott is also stepping into pretty decent equipment; after all, AJ Allmendinger just finished second in this car earlier in the month at the Glen.

Can anybody stop Johnny Sauter?

If there was ever a wild card race in the playoffs, it’s the first race of this season’s Camping World Truck Series playoffs at the lone road course event of the season at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

What’s more is that, of the eight playoff drivers, there are no drivers with road course wins in the series, although Noah Gragson finished second there last year.

Johnny Sauter would probably be considered the default favorite for every one of these playoff races, as he’s in the middle of a statistically amazing season. Chew on this: he finished 19th at Martinsville Speedway, 15th at Kentucky Speedway, 16th at Eldora Speedway and eighth at Pocono Raceway. Doesn’t sound that impressive, right? However, those are his only finishes outside the top five this season.

The No. 21 truck has an average finish of 5.4, which would be the best among full time-drivers in the history of the Truck Series if he can hold onto it.

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About Michael Finley

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Michael has watched NASCAR for 15 years and began covering the sport five years ago. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and a proud member of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA).

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6 comments

  1. Avatar

    Barney Visser had a heart attack last year, which must have gotten his heirs and business partners concerned about the future. I’m sure they are not too keen on Barney re-investing a big chunk of his (and their) fortune to cover the loss of 5-hour’s sponsorship of the #78 in 2019. Meanwhile, NASCAR de-valued sponsorship value by cutting the current $20/M Cup naming rights deal in 2016, which is over a 50% reduction of what Sprint was paying. This makes it way more diffcult to find new corporate sponsors willing to drop $10/M a season on partial sponsorship for a Cup team, even one that is the defending champion.

    If and when Barney sells out, keep an eye out for other old, rich men like Jack Roush and Gene Haas to consider cashing out of NASCAR in the near future.

  2. Avatar

    Again its a sport built on using other peoples money, and when that stops turn out the lights.

    • Avatar

      ALL SPORTS RELY ON OTHER PEOPLES MONEY, AND SOME EVEN ON THE TAX PAYERS MONEY

      • Avatar

        I don’t think the New England Patriots are relying on sponsorship to field a team this year. But perhaps you know better.

      • Avatar

        You’re right, but there’s a big difference between NASCAR (which I classify as a business) and sports.

        With other sports, in particular the NFL, most of the money coming in either comes from the TV contract or shared revenue between teams. If Jerry Jones loses his sponsorship deal with Pepsi and can’t find a new sponsor, that’s the equivalent of not being able to fit this week’s case of beer in your budget. Yeah it sucks, but you’re not going to lose your house because of it.

        In NASCAR, teams don’t have shared revenue and get pennies on the TV contract. Instead, teams have relied primarily on sponsorship as their main source of income, with results/charter money filling out the rest of the budget. If Rick Hendrick loses his sponsorship deal with Pepsi and fails to find a new sponsor, then uh-oh. He might have to cut a team and move that team’s sponsors over to his other three cars to fill the gaps Pepsi would create.

        • Avatar

          You have stated in a much better way than I did the point was trying to convey. Although I think an argument could be made that both are sports, operated as businesses. One has a much better model than the other, however.

          Looking back I remember owning stock in the Boston Celtics, during there heyday I might add. Seemed to me the three biggest sources of revenue were: their cable network in New England, playoff revenue, and earnings on loans advanced to players. But admittedly that was many years ago.