Furniture Row Racing (FRR) has re-signed Martin Truex Jr. for 2016 — and beyond.
The Barney Visser-owned No. 78 team, which has blossomed into a perennial Chase for the Sprint Cup contender in the last three years, looks to build on its relationship with Truex next season and forge a long-term partnership for the future.
I’ve never been in a situation like this where I’m learning things from my guys. They’re sharp.
Martin Truex Jr.
“It’s not just the place, it’s the people — especially this year,” Truex told Motorsport.com. “Last year almost made me want to retire. It’s funny what a year and a couple of different people can bring to the table.”
Motorsport.com has learned that FRR expected to switch to Toyotas in 2016, forming a technical alliance with JGR (Read More Here).
Cole Pearn takes No. 78 to the next level
Truex, 35, struggled during his first season with the Denver-based team as he acclimated to the different style cars and the systems at Furniture Row Racing. However, as Cole Pearn transitioned from his role as team engineer under to crew chief and custom-tailored the race cars to Truex’s driving style, the No. 78 team took off.
In the first 15 races of 2015, Truex posted 14-top 10 finishes and his 17 top 10s for the season constitute a record for the organization. Truex’s win at Pocono locked the organization into its second Chase berth in three seasons. For Truex, it’s the most consistency he’s enjoyed since Chad Johnston took over the crew chief duties with the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota in 2011.
It’s a huge advantage cause they’re not going out with competitors or giving information away at the bar. There’s a lot to be said about solidarity
Martin Truex Jr. on FRR shop location
“Cole is underrated,” Truex said. “He’s just been good for me for a lot of reasons. We just fit together. It reminds me of when Chad came on my old car before. Sometimes certain personalities just don’t jell. They just don’t click. I had a great relationship with Todd (Berrier) last year — and that wasn't the reason we didn’t run good — he wasn't the reason. The way everything worked out, it just didn’t pan out because our cars weren’t right.
“Whether Cole and I got along like we do, we still would have had a good season, but I think the way we get along and understand each other and enjoy working together has made it so much more fun to be successful. I think we really push each other because we feed off of each other. I can tell when he’s mad and I need to cheer him up or try to turn the tables and he does the same thing for me a lot. We really compliment each other a lot. The funny thing is, I’ve worried about the race car a lot less this year.”
A weekly contender
The concerns Truex has experienced in the past, such as whether the team will bring the right car to the race track, if the car will have proper setup or what the competition is doing, no longer faze him. The faith Truex has in the Furniture Row team allows him to concentrate on his job.
“I have so much confidence that they’re going to do the right thing all the time, that I don’t worry about that stuff,” Truex said. “I worry about us, working together. I worry about our SIM stuff and helping my engineers understand me better.
“The whole way we go about our business is different then I’ve ever done before. I’ve never been in a situation like this where I’m learning things from my guys. They’re sharp.”
Visser is pleased with the progress he’s witnessed with the driver and the team.
“It’s a good group of really good guys that get along well,” Visser said. “It’s taken a while to get it to this point — if there’s a trouble maker in the group, he usually doesn't last very long — and the guys just love working with each other. They have a good time.
“Martin is a heck of a driver and every year we’re with him we’re learning more about what he needs in the car, what he needs that chassis to feel like. We’re looking to step it up here even a little bit more. We’re excited.”
Rocky Mountain way
In the last two years, Truex has experienced what a unique environment Visser and team manager Joe Garone have created in Denver. While he questioned whether a team outside of the Charlotte, N.C. bubble could flourish, Truex now understands the philosophy behind the FRR’s success.
“It’s a great thing when we’re where we are,” Truex said. “It’s taken them 10 years to get there, in North Carolina, it might have taken them five. But now, it’s a huge advantage cause they’re not going out with competitors or giving information away at the bar. There’s a lot to be said about solidarity — and being out there by themselves. Our guys are such a tight-knit group. They’re best friends.
“They love being out there by themselves. They have camaraderie. They have a special thing going. They love what they’re doing. They’re working seven days a week and they love it because they’re doing it together. And I love, hell yeah. Who wouldn’t? I’m so lucky to be able to work with those guys. I love what we have.”