Martin Truex Jr. acknowledged he has yet to discuss a contract extension with the Denver-based team but he's not concerned. The bigger question might be what manufacturer he's driving for next year.
Everything is trending in the right direction for Furniture Row Racing.
But after Martin Truex Jr. led the most laps and finally broke through with his first win since joining the No. 78 team, the organization still has two important factors to reconcile.
Truex's contract is set to expire at the end of the year--not that the driver is likely to leave a team he has learned to love. On Sunday at Pocono Raceway, Truex made it clear he’s never before enjoyed the type of relationship he has with crew chief Cole Pearn and the FRR team.
This is the kind of thing I've been looking for my whole career, and hopefully we can keep it going.
Martin Truex Jr.
“This team is just something special,” Truex said after his third career win. “This is the kind of thing I've been looking for my whole career, and hopefully we can keep it going."
During a test at Darlington Raceway on Wednesday, Truex reiterated his commitment to the team. Although there have not been any formal discussions regarding a contract extension, Truex expressed his desire to remain with the Denver-based company beyond this year.
“With the team that we're building, that we've built, I feel like this is the kind of situation that I've really looked for my whole career,” Truex said. “The guys have done such a great job and they're so good at what they're doing, and we have such a great group. I feel like this team is special.
“You look over the years at Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson and the team that they built and what (Jeff) Gordon did with (Ray) Evernham back in the day. This team has that feel of it's just special, and they're doing special things. They're building great race cars, they're making good decisions, they're making it really easy for me to do my job.
“Honestly it's so relaxed and so much fun that, yeah, I really want to do everything I can to keep this group together because I think there's so much more we can do. I think that I feel like we're still learning, we're still getting better, we're still learning each other some. I mean, it's just ‑‑ to see what this team has accomplished so early this season has been amazing. For sure it's something I'd like to keep going for a long time.”
The front office
Furniture Row Racing team owner Barney Visser shares Truex's sentiment. When he was on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Wednesday, Visser sounded confident that FRR and Truex would come to an agreement.
But as a successful businessman — and former racer himself — Visser knows it’s going to take capital beyond his own investment to take the No. 78 to the next level — and stay there.
It may involve a change in manufacturer here, we’re not sure. There just doesn’t seem to be any money out of General Motors and probably never will be for us, so something’s gotta give.
“We’ll see,” Visser told talk show host Dave Moody. “We’re looking for sponsorship, we need that. We need to get some of that in place to really negotiate the kind of contract we both liked to see.
“It may involve a change in manufacturer here, we’re not sure. There just doesn’t seem to be any money out of General Motors and probably never will be for us, so something’s gotta give. We’ll see where it goes. We’re as happy with Martin as he is with us and we want to get something done there.”
When Motorsport.com requested a comment from Chevrolet, a representative from the manufacturer replied, "Chevrolet does not discuss contractual relationships with its teams."
Looking for more than "Congratulations"
This isn’t the first time that Visser has mentioned a potential manufacturer change.
Despite the success the team has experienced — first with Kurt Busch and for the last year with Truex — Furniture Row receives absolutely zero financial support from Chevrolet. That funding is wrapped up in Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing and Richard Childress Racing, the latter which FRR shares a technical alliance with.
Last year FRR team principals spoke with both Toyota and Ford — but talks cooled as Truex struggled to acclimated to his new ride. Once the team found the proper chassis for Truex, he took off. Since the 2015 season started, the No. 78 has finished outside of the top 10 just once is 14 starts. Truex average finish of 7.9 is second only to defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick.
Furniture Row would be an asset to either Toyota or Ford, two manufacturers that beyond the top organization in each camp, lacks a team with FRR’s level of speed to share resources with.
Toyota would appear a more likely candidate for FRR and Truex has already enjoyed success behind the wheel of a Camry.
Joe Gibbs Racing is clearly the class of the Toyota field but lacks a comparable relationship such as the Hendrick/SHR alliance —where eight teams (including five champions) share data. Hendrick receives feedback from HScott Motorsports as well.
Although JGR receives engine data from Toyota Racing development, which supplies engines to both Gibbs and Michael Waltrip Racing, both teams build their own chassis. As MWR continues to search for its own direction, JGR is unlikely to gain anything from a partnership with Waltrip or expect the Nos. 15 and 55 teams to push them to the next level. Furniture Row has benefitted from the Busch/Harvick relationship and Truex has developed a similar alliance with the RCR drivers including his close friend Ryan Newman.
The next step
It’s likely that a contract between Visser and Truex is just a matter of setting the two down in the same room and agreeing to terms. But for now, the most important goal is simply to keep the success coming.
“We just don’t need to screw around with anything right now, any negotiations, anything that will upset the apple cart,” Visser said. “You look at how we’re running. We’ll get it done. We’ll get in there and get started with this stuff.”
When Motorsport.com reached out to Chevy Racing for comment, a spokesperson replied, "Chevrolet does not discuss contractual relationships with its teams."