Dale Jr .'s Coca-Cola 600 paint scheme salutes hero
RELATED: 600 Miles of Remembrance: Drivers honor fallen military members Dale Earnhardt Jr .’s special patriotic scheme for his No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports was revealed after an overwhelming response on social media. The patriotic look for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) honors Lance Corporal Aaron Reed. Reed was killed in Iraq in 2005 while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. Originally, the scheme was to be revealed at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, but the social media response of more than 2,600 retweets led to the company revealing the paint scheme at 2 p.m. ET on Monday. Earnhardt is winless in 32 points-paying starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway with 12 top 10s at his home track.
Bobby Pierce earns first career pole at Eldora
The 18-year-old will be making his first Truck start in tonight's event RELATED: Qualifying race lineups " Qualifying results After recording top-five speeds in both practices today, newcomer Bobby Pierce earned his first career 21 Means 21 Pole Award on Wednesday, using a high speed of 86.889 mph to bring his No. 63 MB Motorsports Chevrolet owned by Mike Mittler to the top of the leaderboard. It also was Mittler's first pole. Pierce, an 18-year-old dirt Late Model driver, will be making his first Camping World Truck Series start in tonight's 1-800-CarCash Mud Summer Classic (9 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). His qualifying effort tonight made him the fifth driver in Truck Series history to win the pole in his first start. He joins former series champions Ron Hornaday Jr . (Phoenix, 1995) and Bobby Hamilton (Martinsville, 1996) as well as Kerry Earnhardt (Daytona, 2005) and Alex Tagliani (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, 2014). After sustaining damage in the second practice, Johnny Sauter rebounded, posting the second-fastest speed (84.818 mph) on the leaderboard in his No. 98 ride. Ray Black Jr . was third on the leaderboard, his No. 07 Truck recording a high speed of 84.567 mph. Cameron Hayley (84.380 mph) and John Wes Townley (84.309 mph) rounded out the top five. The top five from this evening's single truck qualifying willl start on the pole for each of the five qualifying races, which will determine the rest of the field for tonight's 1-800-CarCash Mud Summer Classic (9 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). Beyond the pole, the random draw will decide the order of the qualifying races. RELATED: Learn more about Eldora race format Sprint Cup Series Brad Keselowski will be making his dirt track debut in tonight's Mud Summer Classic. After a brush with the wall, Keselowski's No. 29 BK Racing Truck picked up the 21st-fastest spot on the leaderboard. Former Sprint Cup Series driver Ken Schrader -- who was the first pole winner for the annual Eldora race -- ranked 18th on the leaderboard in his own No. 52 Toyota. Wednesday's opening qualifying session provided the drivers with plenty of challenges associated with dirt track racing. JR Motorsports' Cole Custer took a hard hit to the wall in his first qualifying run, damaging his No. 00 Chevrolet and giving him a flat tire. The incident left him with a 34th qualifying spot. Ty Dillon 's No. 33 GMS Racing truck made contact with the wall on his first qualiyfing run, giving him a 20th qualifying position for tonight's five-race event. Madeline Crane's No. 80 truck -- which took on damage in the second practice -- also hit the wall in Turn 1 early in the qualifying session, which qualified her 33rd. Matt Tifft -- who qualified 27th -- spun out in his second lap, but didn't make contact. The Camping World Truck Series is back on track for the first qualiyfing race at 7 p.m. ET (FOX Sports 2). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR Diversity Internship Program Welcomes 2016 class
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 23, 2016) – Twenty-six of the best and brightest college students from across the country and abroad ventured to Charlotte Motor Speedway this past weekend as the sport introduced the 2016 NASCAR Diversity Internship Program (NDIP) class at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Weekend. The 10-week, paid program exposes multicultural college students to employment opportunities within America’s number one motorsport, whether in departments within the sanctioning body or with organizations that NASCAR partners with to enhance the fan experience both on and off the race track. Through an all-inclusive orientation experience, the interns gain a behind-the-scenes look at the business of the sport and insight into prospective careers in motorsports. " The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program has grown to become one of the most popular and attractive internships in sports," said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. "This program has given talented students an opportunity to gain relevant work experience and opportunities for careers in our industry since 2000." NDIP continues to grow in popularity year over year. The key to that growth is the ongoing support of industry partners. Companies such as International Speedway Corporation, Roush Fenway Racing , Rev Racing, Daytona International Speedway , Octagon and Taylor have been longstanding supporters of NDIP. Recent partners include Toyota, Switch and Pocono Raceway . These valued partners increase the number of internship opportunities for young talent and contribute to the program's overall success. Interns will work in multiple departments including in the areas of engineering, finance, marketing, licensing and public relations. In addition to receiving hand-on experience, the interns will also participate in professional development workshops, networking events and volunteer opportunities throughout their internship experience. Victoria Kim, a recent graduate of Penn State, participated in the program last summer. Kim also received the NASCAR Diversity Outstanding Intern Award at the 2016 NASCAR Diversity Awards and was recently hired at NASCAR. "The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program was an incredible opportunity to get a hands-on, behind-the-scenes look at NASCAR," Kim said. "NDIP was a stepping stone and helped me get to where I am today, a full-time employee in the Daytona office for the Touring Series Racing Operations. I am grateful to have been a part of the NDIP class of 2015 and am thankful for the opportunity to pursue my dreams." More than 300 interns have participated in the NDIP since its inception, and many secured full-time jobs in motorsports following their internships. Recent graduates have found roles at Phoenix International Raceway , Richard Petty Motorsports , event marketing agency Switch , and many other companies tied to the industry. Several NDIP alumni are now employed at NASCAR within multiple business units, including: Brandon Thompson, director, racing operations; Marvin Aylor Jr ., manager, marketing; Lauren Houston, senior account executive, multicultural development; Kathryn Lee, manager, events; Jusan Hamilton , senior account executive, industry operations; Ade Herbert, senior coordinator, social media; Jason Simmons, licensing account coordinator; Victoria Kim, coordinator touring series operations and Cameron McCarty, pit road technician. "The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program has proven to be an effective pipeline for hiring top talent across the industry," said Paula Miller, NASCAR senior vice president and chief human resources officer. "We have hired several former interns who are important contributors to the sport's continued growth." The 2016 class participated in NASCAR 101 and received guided tours of the NASCAR Research & Development Center, NASCAR Hall of Fame and Charlotte Motor Speedway before watching the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. The class includes the following students from colleges and universities across the country:
Hall of Fame preview: Mark Martin amongst contenders
RELATED: Meet 2017's nominees " Live stream of reveal, 5 p.m. ET Mark Martin will be one of 20 people considered for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame when the Voting Panel convenes in Charlotte on Wednesday to determine the 2017 class. (TV coverage: NBCSN, 5 p.m. ET) Three of those on the ballot are former premier series champions -- Red Byron, NASCAR's first Strictly Stock champion in 1949; Benny Parsons, the 1973 winner who went on to enjoy a successful second career in the broadcast booth; and Alan Kulwicki, killed in a plane crash just four-and-a-half months after capturing the 1992 crown. There was no championship trophy for Martin, who retired from competition at the end of the 2013 season. But that doesn't diminish the accomplishments the Batesville, Arkansas, native garnered during a career that spanned more than three decades. Martin, 57, won 40 times in the premier series, with victories coming at 21 different tracks. He finished 10th or better 453 times, in more than half of his 882 career starts. He also won 56 poles. RELATED: Live stream, 5 p.m. ET, Wednesday In the battle for the championship, Martin placed second five times, a mark he shares with current Hall of Fame member Bobby Allison, and he scored 17 top-10 points finishes during his career. "It makes me proud I was able to be as successful as I was and grateful for the opportunities I had," Martin told Little Rock, Arkansas, radio station KABZ-FM recently. "To be real honest I didn't enjoy a … significant part of my career because I was trying so hard to get that championship because I wanted it, and even more than that, the people who supported me wanted it for me so badly. I saw time running out. "I spent too much of my time focused on that and not enjoying the opportunities I had. Today, when I look back on it I wish I hadn't done that." Martin lost the 1990 title by 26 points to Dale Earnhardt and finished second to the Richard Childress Racing driver again four years later. Other runner-up finishes through the years came against Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson . "My life would not be different one bit had I won one of those or not," Martin said. "I had a great career. … I don't think it would have changed a thing in my life had I won one of those trophies. I was very close. I got beat by only four of the greatest of all time in NASCAR in my opinion. … "I'm not embarrassed." Earnhardt was one of five members inducted into the Hall’s inaugural class in 2010. Gordon, a four-time series champion with 93 career victories, retired from driving at the end of 2015 and won't be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration until 2018 and possible induction until '19. Stewart, winner of three premier series titles and co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing , will cease to compete full time in the series following the 2016 season. Johnson is a six-time champion and boasts 77 career wins, including two thus far this season. In addition to his premier series exploits, Martin held the XFINITY Series record for career wins for 14 years and is also a seven-time winner in the Camping World Truck Series. It is his second consecutive appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot. First-year nominees for the 2017 ballot are former Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr ., team co-owner Jack Roush, driver Ricky Rudd, noted crew chief and engine builder Waddell Wilson and broadcaster Ken Squier. Rounding out the list of nominees are Buddy Baker, Richard Childress, Ray Evernham, Ray Fox, Rick Hendrick, Harry Hyde, Hershel McGriff, Raymond Parks, Larry Phillips, Mike Stefanik and Robert Yates. Also to be determined by the Voting Panel is the 2017 recipient of the Landmark Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to NASCAR. The five nominees are Martinsville Speedway track founder H. Clay Earles, driver Janet Guthrie, team owner Raymond Parks, former RJ Reynolds executive Ralph Seagraves and Squier. The Voting Panel is scheduled to begin the selection process Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. ET at the Charlotte Convention Center. The announcement of those chosen will take place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Great Hall (5 p.m. ET, NBCSN). NASCAR.com will also live stream the event: You can watch it live here.
Dale Jr .: 'We got a lot of work to do'
In what could seemingly be called the State of the Union for the No. 88 team at the near-midway point of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular season, Dale Earnhardt Jr . proclaimed that the team has "got a lot of work to do" on Dirty Mo Radio's "The Dale Jr . Download." Those words and more below came after Earnhardt's involvement in an 18-car wreck on Lap 355 in the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway left him with a 32nd-place finish, the fourth straight finish outside the top 10 for the Hendrick Motorsports driver. That stretch has also seen the sport's most popular driver drop from sixth to 11th in the driver point standings. "Last week, it was 'yeah, we finished 15th (at Kansas). We'll get it figured out.' This week, it's more we got a problem, Houston," Earnhardt said. "It's time to start understanding how severe this situation is and get to owning it. Try to figure something out. We got a long season, lot of racing left. "Not quite halfway to the Chase deadline (at Richmond) and I'm looking at this teams in the Chase and the teams that are not in the Chase and I know we're better than them. It ain't good enough to be just good enough to make it. In years past, we've won races, been locked in. We were up in the top five in points throughout the year. We definitely aren't the team we were the past few years. We’ve got to figure out what's going on. How we're getting beat." A 26-time winner in the sport's top series, Earnhardt is coming off seven wins in the past two seasons. In both of those seasons, Earnhardt had already registered a win by this point in the season (The Daytona 500 in 2014 and Talladega in May of 2015), which pretty much sewed up his postseason spot in the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . This week's Sprint All-Star Race (Saturday, May 21, approx. 9 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) provides a bit of a real-time laboratory for the team to find some answers. "This All-Star Race weekend coming up ain't going to be the answer to all our problems, but it's an opportunity to work on some of them. I’ll be honest with you, I'd rather win that (Coca-Cola) 600 a 1,000 times more than I'd rather win the All-Star Race. Running good and running better the rest of the year is much more important to me than stumbling into a million bucks on this all-star weekend. "If we come out of the All-Star Race winners, but don't understand how to go into the (Coca-Cola) 600 and be competitive, it does us no good. I put us learning something, us understanding how to get better and us getting better as a team above anything else going forward." The team doing most of the winning in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series of late is the Joe Gibbs Racing stable of Kyle Busch (the defending series champion), Carl Edwards , Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth . Those four drivers have combined for seven wins through the first 12 races of the 2016 season. Last season, the foursome combined to win 14 races, including 11 of the final 21 races. This season, Hendrick Motorsports has recorded two wins through the first 12 races of the season, both by Jimmie Johnson , among its four-driver lineup of Earnhardt, Johnson, Chase Elliott and Kasey Kahne . "As a company, I think everybody agrees that we can be faster. I think with us all working toward that goal, sooner or later the company itself is going to find that extra gear and it's going to affect all four cars all at once. You see all the Gibbs guys, all quick — practice, qualifying, race. They are all together. That's because their smart, they figured it out, they got something going that's working for them and their sharing information. "Our team's do the same thing. Once we figure out what's going on, once we figure out what we need, I think the whole company will step up. I feel positive that will happen before the Chase. ... We got to go to work."
Roush Fenway, Fastenal agree to extend deal
CONCORD, N.C. -- Roush Fenway Racing has entered a multi-year partnership extension with primary partner the Fastenal Company that will continue Fastenal's position as the anchor partner of the No. 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team and driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr . As part of the extension, Fastenal will also increase the number of its primary races in 2017 and beyond. "We are really excited to announce that Fastenal will remain the anchor partner of the No. 17 team for years to come," said driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr . "Fastenal is a first-class organization with values that align completely with myself and this race team. "We've seen a lot of improvement across the board this year," added Stenhouse. "We are very happy that Fastenal will continue to be a part of the momentum at Roush Fenway. There has been a lot of hard work and effort put into this team and our goal and expectation is to reward Fastenal with a trip to victory lane and the Chase in the near future." Fastenal is currently in its fifth season as a primary partner in Roush Fenway's Sprint Cup stable, and its second full season as the anchor partner on Stenhouse's No. 17 Ford Fusion. "To have a company of the caliber of Fastenal recognize the long-term value of a partnership with Roush Fenway, Ricky and the No. 17 team is gratifying for our entire organization," said Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark. "During our relationship, Fastenal has created and implemented a robust and impactful motorsports marketing program, and we are thrilled to have Fastenal continue to be a key part of the Roush Fenway family now and in the future." Fastenal, which boasts 2,600 stores nationwide, first joined Roush Fenway as a primary partner in 2010 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. "We are truly looking forward to continuing our partnership with Roush Fenway Racing as the anchor sponsor of the No. 17," said Fastenal President and CEO Dan Florness. "Ricky has done an excellent job representing our brand -- both on and off the track -- and we are extremely proud of the relationship we have built with Ricky, Jack Roush and everyone at Roush Fenway Racing ." "Extending our partnership as the anchor sponsor of the No. 17 reflects our belief in Roush Fenway Racing and Ricky Stenhouse," said Florness. "The NASCAR program has helped us grow our business and excite our employees, and we feel a strong connection with the NASCAR community and fan base."
NASCAR to honor fallen troops with 600 Miles of Remembrance
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (May 23, 2016) -- Continuing the sport's long-standing tradition of honoring the United States Armed Forces, all 40 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers will bear the name of a fallen service member on their race car windshields during Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), NASCAR announced today. For the second consecutive year, "600 Miles of Remembrance" will pay tribute this Memorial Day Weekend to those who bravely served and died defending our country. Windshield headers normally reserved for drivers' last names will read "SGT HARVEY," "LCPL RAMIREZ," and "SPC BEAUDOIN," among other names of the fallen. The special tribute will commemorate the launch of NASCAR: An American Salute ™, the industry's collective expression of respect and gratitude for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, past and present. Fans can follow the conversation on social media using #NASCARsalutes. "Each of the names proudly displayed on these race cars tells a story of honor and sacrifice," said Brent Dewar, NASCAR chief operating officer. "As the NASCAR industry reflects on Memorial Day Weekend, we’re proud to honor these and all fallen service members in a way that helps ensure their stories and lives are never forgotten." Many of the service members whose names will be displayed on the race cars were chosen by the teams, and some have unique connections to the fallen. Navy SEAL Denis Miranda, who was killed in a helicopter crash in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2010, trained in BUD/S alongside Graham Molatch, jackman for the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing team. Miranda’s name will appear on Kyle Larson 's car during the Coca-Cola 600 . Lance Corporal Scott Lynch served in the United States Marine Corps with Mark Singleton, tire changer for Chip Ganassi Racing , and will be honored on Jamie McMurray 's No. 1 car. Furniture Row Racing employee John Parks served in the Marines with Jeffrey Bohr, Jr ., a gunnery sergeant who was killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom and whose name will be carried on Martin Truex Jr . 's No. 78 car. Toyota will also honor the names of fallen service members on its pace cars and grand marshal cars for the Coca-Cola 600 as part of 600 Miles of Remembrance. Many of the families of the service members being recognized will be in attendance at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The track will host more than 6,000 active military members at the Coca-Cola 600 in honor of Memorial Day. Throughout the week, NASCAR: An American Salute will feature various activities demonstrating the industry's support for the military, including: · During Saturday’s Hisense 4K TV 300 , NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers will display red, white and blue XFINITY windshield decals on their race cars. · Goodyear will replace the "Eagle" sidewall design with "Support Our Troops" messaging on all tires used during the Memorial Day Weekend races. · NASCAR, Coca-Cola and Mars, through the annual military support program, DeCA, will offer a sweepstakes to shoppers at more than 180 commissaries who will have a chance to win a trip for two to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week in Las Vegas. The kickoff event will take place at Fort Bragg on May 25 and feature No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin . The 2016 DAYTONA 500 winner will tour the Warrior Transition Battalion Unit and visit with families at the South Commissary. · In partnership with Operation Gratitude, Mars will invite race fans to help assemble care packages for the troops in the midway at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The care packages will include Mars candy and be shipped following the Coca-Cola 600 to deployed military members. · NASCAR and Honor and Remember, Inc. will display specially prepared Honor and Remember flags representing those who lost their life in service to our country from each of the 50 United States throughout the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage at Charlotte Motor Speedway . During the Coca Cola 600 pre-race broadcast (5:30 p.m. ET, FOX), FOX Sports will recognize all service members who have lost their lives in the past year by displaying their names and branch of service on a graphic scroll. This Sunday, NASCAR drivers will discuss 600 Miles of Remembrance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (channel 90) during a special military tribute show airing at 1 p.m. ET. The Dialed In Salute to the Troops special, hosted by Claire B. Lang, will feature interviews with several drivers as well as service men and service women from different branches of the military. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Coca-Cola 600 will be broadcast live from Charlotte Motor Speedway at 6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Additional live coverage can be found on NASCAR.com . To view an online gallery of the service members honored as part of 600 Miles of Remembrance, visit www.NASCAR.com/salute .
NASCAR drops green flag on NASCAR Emoji Garage
If you haven't noticed, emojis are just about everywhere you look, and options are as clever as they are varied. Name an emotion -- there is likely an emoji for it. Name a food -- definitely an emoji for it. Animal ... emoji. You get the picture. Have you ever wondered what a Dale Earnhardt Jr . emoji would look like? How about Danica Patrick ? Wouldn't a Kyle Busch emoji be sweet. Well, the emoji phenomenon has hit NASCAR. In advance of this weekend's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), fans will have the chance to share their favorite driver emojis wherever and whenever they want. Today marks the launch of NASCAR Emoji Garage , a brand-new app filled with NASCAR-themed emoji stickers available for free at the Apple App Store -- click here . The app is designed to be a platform for fans to engage with their favorite teams and drivers through the use of themed stickers. Teams and drivers helped choose their favorite sticker designs, making NASCAR Emoji Garage the latest platform allowing fans to connect with the sport any day of the week. Some examples below:
As executive producer, Dale Jr . excited about new series
MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- When Dale Earnhardt Jr . previewed the first installment of the upcoming three-part series "NASCAR: The Rise of American Speed," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said he was amazed at what he witnessed. "The first part I watched like a kid at Christmas," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said Tuesday, adding that he kept thinking, "This is cool; I love what I'm seeing. I didn't know it was like this; this is awesome." Earnhardt is an executive producer for the series, which debuts this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on CMT. "You know about Red Byron (NASCAR's first premier series champion) and guys like that and what they've done but you've never actually had a window into what they might have been like," he said. "So that was really, really neat. "Watching that first episode, it's completely different from watching the other two. The other two I was there, or I remember it as a kid. You immediately go to sort of picking it apart and (asking) does it live up to the standard?" The series (episodes 2 and 3 will air on consecutive Sundays, May 15 and May 22) uses archival footage as well as reenactments and interviews to document the history of NASCAR from its beginning to modern day. Among those contributing on-air to the project were stars such as Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick , Tony Stewart and Darrell Waltrip. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and Lesa France Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer of International Speedway Corp., provide additional insights. NASCAR founder William Henry Getty France was their grandfather, Bill France Jr . their father. Episode 1 details stock car racing's rough, raw beginnings and the senior France's desire to pursue his dream of bringing acceptability and professionalism to the sport. Episode 2 features the continued rise of the sport and France's many battles to bring NASCAR to mainstream America. Episode 3 begins with the '79 Daytona 500 , a watershed moment for NASCAR, and focuses heavily on the career of France's son, Bill Jr ., and seven-time series champion Dale Earnhardt before closing with where NASCAR sits in today's sports landscape. But it was that first episode that Earnhardt Jr . said, "Intrigues me the most. "Because I wasn't there and didn't know much about that time," he said. "You know people's names and you match that name with an accomplishment. But you never really knew their personalities much. "I believe in this kind of film you're able to see maybe what this guy's attitude or personality was like. You see when Big Bill is trying to form NASCAR, some of the drivers are kind of grinding against the gears and pushing back a little bit. "We really don't know a lot about that and there aren't a lot of stories telling that part of it, that side of it. So that was real interesting."
Progress is evident for Truex Jr ., Furniture Row
Martin Truex Jr . led a race-high 172 laps on Saturday night at Kansas Speedway , which serves as the "home" track for Denver-based Furniture Row Racing . A mechanical issue kept him out of Victory Lane, but his single-car team was the class of the field -- just ask race-winner Kyle Busch . "The 78 was probably the fastest car," Busch said of his Toyota teammate. It's something to get used to. Furniture Row Racing , owned by Barney Visser and stationed near the Rocky Mountains as opposed to "Race City USA," has developed into one of the premier teams in NASCAR while operating under the radar to the west of the Mississippi River. RELATED: Learn more about Furniture Row Coming off a year in which the single-car organization qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the second time in three years, and then promptly followed that with a berth in the Championship 4 Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway , the organization may be even better in 2016. This season's results prove last year's playoff push was no fluke. A manufacturer change from Chevrolet to Toyota brought alignment with Joe Gibbs Racing , and Truex is consistently one of the fastest cars every week. He and Furniture Row appear in excellent shape to qualify for the postseason for the second consecutive year, and perhaps another deep run is possible. Here's how driver and team got to this point. The past Visser began his career in the manufacturing business more than 40 years ago, starting the Furniture Row company in 1972 after growing up dreaming not of racing, but of business. That drive turned into a successful career in the west as the owner of several retailers -- but when Visser decided to cut back, he caught the NASCAR bug. Racing as a hobby at Colorado National Speedway led to his desire to start a NASCAR XFINITY Series team, which has evolved into the successful single-car Sprint Cup team. (The first year in Cup was 2005.) The organization earned its first win in 2011 when Regan Smith won the historic Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway . In 2013, Kurt Busch qualified for the postseason and would finish the season 10th in points, then the best standing in team history. That changed last year. Truex Jr . joined the company before the 2014 season after losing his ride at Michael Waltrip Racing when that organization went from three cars to two. In 2015, Truex and first-year crew chief Cole Pearn led Furniture Row to its second-ever win when he conquered the "Tricky Triangle" of Pocono. It capped a four-race stretch in which Truex led 454 laps and asserted Furniture Row as a premier series power. A technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing buoyed Furniture Row, then running Chevrolets, last year -- and Truex would advance deeper into the Chase than any of RCR's three drivers. The present Speed hasn't been a problem for Furniture Row Racing after the switch to Toyota. If anything, the team has been faster this year. "If we were going to run and be happy running in the middle of the field week in and week out, we would have been fine where we were," Furniture Row General Manager Joe Garone said before the season. "But Chevrolet has their hands full. They have plenty of teams and, as a new one coming in we were always going to be the bottom team. They can only spread themselves so thin. So, honestly, there wasn't the opportunity for us to get to the upper tier. "Toyota looked at it completely differently. They could see the benefits that we bring to the table as a single-car team partnered with one of their teams, and they jumped right on board." Truex has one top-five and four top-10 finishes through 11 races, but that doesn't fully tell the story. His 370 laps led are behind only Joe Gibbs Racing 's Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards and Stewart-Haas Racing 's Kevin Harvick . His average start (12.2) and average finish (12.7) both rank in the top 10 in NASCAR; only six other drivers can say the same. In short, there's been plenty of speed, just not finishes -- Kansas was shaping up to be one of the most dominant showings of the season until a fluke tire issue caused the No. 78 to pit from the lead late. "I couldn't believe it," Truex said after the race. "It's frustrating, but that's how it goes. We're going to win some races (this year), for sure. We keep bringing cars like that, we're going to win some. ... It's tough, but it happens. It's part of racing." Watch: Truex Jr . stays positive after tough finish The future Truex Jr . and Furniture Row Racing have proven to be a good fit, and the addition of sponsors such as Bass Pro Shop and Auto Owners Insurance help the team move toward a reality of running two cars. In July of last year, Visser told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: "We'd like to have (a second team) by '17. ... We think maybe '17 it's going to roll around the way we need it to. We're going to have to attract the sponsors. When we finally get the sponsors, we'll be able to do it." A technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing will likely prove fruitful for years, as the JGR Toyota Camrys appear to have a leg up on the field, and Truex himself sits above Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth in the points standings. "I don't like to look back, but I think it's safe to say that we had the opportunity to have two win stickers on our car at this point of the season," Truex said before Kansas, which could have been win No. 3. "We've gone through a major transition by switching to Toyota and having a new technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing . I truly feel that we've come a long way in a short period of time, and feel the rest of the season looks promising for our Furniture Row Racing team."