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Junior talks plate success that others still seek
RELATED: Full schedule " Dale Jr.'s 'Amelia' ready to take flight again TALLADEGA, Ala. -- In his mind, the best race Dale Earnhardt Jr . ever ran at Talladega Superspeedway won't be remembered for one simple reason. "Because I didn't win," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said Friday during a day of practice on the 2.66-mile layout. "I'm disappointed because of what happened in that race and what we were doing with the car and what the car was doing was amazing. "It sucks because we were just six inches short of being declared the winner. … We've lost a lot of races here, but I can't even remember any of them that stand out like that." A winner in the spring race at Talladega, Earnhardt Jr. returned in the fall needing another victory to keep his championship hopes alive. Although he led a race-high 61 laps, officials determined that Joey Logano ( Team Penske ) was the leader and thus the winner when the caution came out on a green-white-checkered restart that froze the field and ended the race. Fifty-five. That's how many races the 41-year-old Earnhardt has lost on tracks where NASCAR requires the use of restrictor plates to keeps speeds in check. However, 10 wins during a career that launched full-time in 2000, puts the son of a seven-time champion in the role of the favorite in plate races. That's twice as many as the soon-to-be-retired Tony Stewart and six-time champion Jimmie Johnson . It's as much a statement about the car, Earnhardt said, as the driver. And what one does with it. "If the car can't complete the passes that my mind mentally wants it to make, then I won't be as offensive and as confident in making those moves," he said. "When I was driving the (Budweiser) car, around 2003, '04, '05 when we were winning all those races, I raced as hard in practice as I did in the race. …You kind of can set the tone early in the weekend with your competitors that this is who you're going to be out on the track; plus this is the car you've got." It certainly helped that his father, Dale Earnhardt, was a master of plate racing , winning 13 times combined at Talladega and Daytona. RELATED: See all of Earnhardt Sr.'s wins "I learned a tremendous amount because I solely watched him whereas, someone else who grew up around the sport may not have focused as much on one particular driver," Earnhardt Jr. said. Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards have combined to win the last four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races heading into Sunday's GEICO 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Fellow JGR teammate Denny Hamlin scored the win in the season-opener at Daytona, the most recent restrictor-plate race. MORE: Edwards: 'Kyle and I haven't talked' since Richmond "You can't make stupid mistakes," Edwards, still searching for his first plate-track win, said. "I learned that early on." Caught up in an incident during one restrictor-plate race, Edwards said he told then-car owner Jack Roush afterward "something like, 'Man, there's just nothing I could do to miss the wreck.' " At which point Roush gave his driver a piece of advice. "He said, 'You might want to go look at the tape because you drove right past Tony Stewart into the wreck and he somehow missed it.' "I went back and watched and I learned from that," Edwards said. "You really have to be watching ahead and you have to pay attention." That he's yet to win a restrictor-plate race is perplexing, considering the 36-year-old has 27 career victories. "I don't need to see my stats at these places," he said, "because they’re not good. … I'd like to get a superspeedway win. We've got great cars and we've got great teammates. I feel like I know how to run these races, but I just haven't been able to get the victory out of it. Hopefully we can do that." Edwards isn't the only notable still searching for that first plate win. Former series champion Kurt Busch (2004) and Martin Truex Jr ., who lost to Hamlin by a nose at Daytona, are as well. "We've seen Dale over the years just really show everybody how it's done and that's because he has a really good understanding of the air, the way it works and knowing how to use that to his advantage," Truex Jr. ( Furniture Row Racing ) said. "For me … I've kind of had good races and bad and lately I feel like I've learned a lot more and gotten better at it, but there's still a lot to learn." Logano and Jamie McMurray , another former Talladega winner, paced Friday's two practices. Earnhardt was 32nd in the first, and seventh-quickest in the second. MORE: Five to Watch: Sleeper picks " Wildest Talladega wrecks
Auto-Owners Insurance partners with Furniture Row Racing
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 17, 2016) -- Furniture Row Racing announced today at Daytona International Speedway that it has formed a partnership with Auto-Owners Insurance. The Fortune 500 company will be a primary sponsor on Martin Truex Jr .'s No. 78 Toyota Camry for three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races -- at Indianapolis (July 24), Darlington, South Carolina (Sept. 4) and Martinsville, Virginia (Oct. 30) -- and become the official insurance sponsor of Furniture Row Racing and Truex. Auto-Owners Insurance offers auto, home, life and business coverage for NASCAR fans and consumers through local, independent agents in 26 states. This year marks Auto-Owners Insurance 100th year in business with success based on the core values the company was built upon in 1916. " Furniture Row Racing and Martin had a tremendous 2015 season and we're looking forward to being on board for even more success this season," said Lee Janis, Vice President of Sales for Auto-Owners Insurance. "We often say, ‘It's not what you do, it's how you do it,' and Martin and the team have earned success by that same mantra. "We've been embraced by the NASCAR family and have greatly enjoyed the loyalty and passion we've experienced with the fans. To be a part of this dedicated community is a real privilege for all of us at Auto-Owners." Auto-Owners Insurance, based in Lansing, Michigan, joins Furniture Row and Bass Pro Shops as a primary sponsor on the No. 78 Toyota for the 2016 season. "When you have one of the nation's leading companies join your team as a partner it's not only a great day but also a great opportunity for Furniture Row Racing ," said team president Joe Garone. "As is the case with all of our partners, Auto-Owners Insurance is a winning company and we look forward to returning the confidence they placed in us with strong performances on the race track." Truex finished fourth in the Sprint Cup final standings last season after garnering a victory along with eight top-five and 22 top-10 finishes. "Anytime you have a major and successful company come on board it is definitely exciting for a driver because it tells me that we're doing something right," said Truex. "The three Auto-Owners Insurance primary races are good tracks for us and we look forward to competing for a victory with the Auto-Owners Insurance colors on the No. 78 Toyota." Truex and Furniture Row Racing kick off the 2016 Sprint Cup season Sunday in the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway . The new @AutoOwnersIns #FurnitureRow 78! #NASCAR #ToyotaNation @ToyotaRacing pic.twitter.com/LA9FtzMBv9 — Furniture Row Racing (@FR78Racing) February 17, 2016
Furniture Row Racing
The history of Furniture Row Racing and full crew for Martin Truex Jr.
Furniture Row Racing to appeal penalty
Jonathan Merryman gets you Up To Speed from Las Vegas Motor Speedway after Furniture Row Racing announced that they would appeal the penalties handed out by NASCAR, following the race in Atlanta.
Furniture Row Racing 2016 team preview
After a successful 2015 season, Martin Truex Jr. and Furniture Row Racing enter a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing in hopes of a championship run in the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Furniture Row's move to Toyota eased by JGR alliance
RELATED: Furniture Row to field Toyota Camrys in 2016 Jimmy Makar knows all about switching manufacturers. In 2008, Makar, the Senior Vice President of Racing Operations at Joe Gibbs Racing , helped guide the organization during its transition from Chevrolet to Toyota. With Furniture Row Racing making the change from Chevrolet to Toyota for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, a move that includes a technical alliance with JGR, Makar has a keen understanding of what lies ahead for the Denver, Colorado-based team. "I hate to say it's easier," Makar, crew chief at JGR for more than a decade, said, "but it is easier than it used to be." The biggest issue for Makar and his group when JGR made the move involved the engine department, which at that time built and maintained engines for its Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series programs. While the organization continued to build its own engines through 2011, swapping from building the Chevrolet R-07 to the Toyota engine was time-consuming and costly. In 2012, JGR teams began using engines built by Toyota Racing Development, an arrangement that continues today. There will be no such problem for Furniture Row since the team doesn't build its own engines. Previously, Earnhardt Childress Racing supplied the horsepower; now it will come from TRD. "The engine program is a huge undertaking if you have to change that," Makar said. "The bodies aren't nearly as big of a deal anymore, especially now with the way the rules are. You have to install different sheet metal but it's basically the same, so that's not as bad of a deal. "They've got their work cut out for them to do all that work, certainly. But the partnership that we’ve developed with them and what we're doing for them will help a lot, too." Furniture Row , owned by Barney Visser, has fielded Chevrolet-branded entries since 2005 when it debuted the No. 78 in a one-race effort with driver Jerry Robertson. It began competing full time in 2008 with Joe Nemechek . The team enters '16 with 307 starts and two wins -- in '11 with Regan Smith and '15 with current driver Martin Truex Jr ., who made it all the way to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway last season. RELATED: Truex picks up familiar sponsor Changing manufacturer allegiances in NASCAR is hardly uncommon, but the reasons behind such a move can vary. Team Penske made the switch from Dodge to Ford after the 2012 season when Dodge pulled out of NASCAR; Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates went from Dodge to Chevrolet in 2009 when it began a short-lived association with Dale Earnhardt Inc. And in 2010, Richard Petty Motorsports ended its Dodge affiliation to align itself with Ford. When JGR made the move, the automaker was in just its second season at the Sprint Cup level and struggling to get its footing. But the long-range outlook appeared promising to JGR officials, who have said they felt they had more of a voice with the new alliance. Today Toyota teams boast 79 premier series victories -- including 70 by JGR drivers -- and Kyle Busch (JGR) enters the season as the defending series champion. Similarly, Joe Garone, general manager for Furniture Row said his group's move to Toyota had nothing to do with the support it received from Richard Childress Racing , with whom it shared a technical alliance but was more about "Chevrolet, as far as the level of support you get to run. "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," Garone said. "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." The association with JGR, he said, was "like icing on the cake." While there were previous conversations about JGR and the now defunct Michael Waltrip Racing working more closely together, team owner Joe Gibbs said "that never kind of came together." "I think this one was something we all talked over and Toyota thought it would be good for them. We seemed to hit it off with Barney and myself, and we decided to share a lot of technology and stuff, so that's what we’re going to do." In addition to chassis and technical support, JGR will also provide the bulk of the pit crew for the No. 78 team. Adam Mosher (rear tire carrier) and Brian Dheel (gas man) return from Truex's 2015 over-the-wall crew. The members will train and be based out of Gibbs shop in Huntersville, North Carolina. "Honestly, it's about the car you take to the track and being better than the next guy's," Garone said. "We take the rock and polish it. We're really good at polishing it, but we don't necessarily build the rock. We get a Joe Gibbs chassis, we build that and we focus on that. "As a single-car team, we put all our energy on that one car and R&D and technology, and don't have to spread ourselves over many cars. So sometimes we can move quicker than some of the other guys."
NASCAR: No word from Furniture Row on appeal
LAS VEGAS -- By the start of the Kobalt 400 on Sunday in Las Vegas, NASCAR had not yet received word from Furniture Row Racing that it was officially withdrawing its appeal of crew chief Cole Pearn's one-race suspension. Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's executive vice president and chief racing development officer , confirmed Monday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the sanctioning body still had not gotten any sort of notice. FOX reported during the early portion of Sunday's race that Pearn told the network the team would withdraw its appeal and he would serve the one-race suspension issued to him as punishment next week at Phoenix. The team was found to have illegal roof flaps before the Atlanta event. It resulted in a P3 penalty that included a $50,000 fine, 15-point deductions of championship driver points and owner points and Pearn's suspension. The team initially said it would appeal the punishment because it was a "safety issue" not something that resulted in a competitive edge. Furniture Row officials told NASCAR.com the team had no official announcement regarding its appeal. "I think from Cole's side he's a little frustrated about how it all went down, which is understandable," Truex said Friday in Las Vegas. "People in the garage area talk and he feels like, 'Do people really think I'm stupid enough after what happened at Daytona to try to pull something over on NASCAR in the same area?' "Being that it's a safety issue, it's really a big deal to us to figure out exactly how it all happened. He'll figure exactly how to make sure something like this doesn't happen again and he'll go through the appeal process and see what comes of it." Furniture Row Racing General Manager Joe Garone told NASCAR.com on Friday in Las Vegas, "In some ways, it's spun up into a little bit bigger deal than it actually is, so we're just trying to keep it what it really is and focus on racing ."
Furniture Row Racing looks for more support
GM Joe Garone discusses whether team is looking to change manufacturers RELATED: Chevrolet address Furniture Row rumors BROOKLYN, Mich. -- A matter of weeks ago, the direction of Furniture Row Racing centered on potentially expanding to a multi-car organization. Now, just days removed from the team's first victory in four years, the tenor of that discussion surrounds which automaker's badges will be on those cars. Furniture and mattress magnate Barney Visser told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio earlier this week that his No. 78 Chevrolet team was exploring a potential change in manufacturers. The car owner's remarks came while the Colorado-based team was still in the honeymoon phase of Martin Truex Jr .'s feel-good victory last weekend at Pocono Raceway . Friday at Michigan International Speedway , Furniture Row general manager Joe Garone elaborated on the team's exploration, saying that it was looking into options that make financial sense. "It is. It's about business," Garone said. "We are in a sport that is real expensive. We truly can't afford to do it. We can do it. When I say we can't afford to do it, I mean at the level we want to push it to in order to be able to be in position to win a championship. We need more resources. Chevrolet has been a great partner. We have been together for 10 years now. But they are spread across … they do a great job; look at all the championships they have won. But to get to the level we need to get to, we need to get a lot more support. We are open and have been looking to try and get that just to push our team forward further." Going further would mark an even more pronounced performance pick-up for Truex, who has run at the front of the pack in recent weeks, leading gobs of laps before finally cashing in last weekend at Pocono. The victory virtually assured Truex a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, where Furniture Row will make only its second appearance since the organization's formation in 2005. MORE: Truex takes long road back to Victory Lane From those origins, however, the team has been exclusively linked to Chevrolet for its decade-plus in NASCAR's top division. For the majority of the team's lifetime, it has also carried the colors of Furniture Row and Denver Mattress, Visser's own companies. Garone -- who was quick to distinguish that the operation was definitely looking, not definitely changing automakers -- said that the scope of the team's search included both new manufacturers and new sponsors. "One of the things about the No. 78 car is because it has always had Furniture Row and Denver Mattress on it, everybody assumes it is sponsored," Garone said. "It has made it tough to find partners, but again Barney owns those companies. We need to get the word out that we are actively looking for sponsorship to come on board. Not just for the No. 78, but to expand the company into a multi-car team. It is for the long-term growth of the team. We will just see what plays out and just keep pushing the button and try to expand this thing." RELATED: Is second car in the cars for Furniture Row ? For Truex, his focus remains trained on improving over the second half of the regular season and making a move for his first Sprint Cup championship in the 10-race Chase. But he also acknowledged that teams, regardless of their position in the garage's pecking order, are continually searching for an edge. "More of what we are doing and just continuing to get better and push hard and try to find more speed," Truex said. "I think everybody is looking right now. Everybody is constantly working hard. Things change a lot in this garage area. There are a lot of smart people that are always working and always pushing to find more. We just have to keep doing that. I think that we have shown this year that we are capable of it. Certainly the last four weeks have been great. I feel like we have shown and proved that we can battle with them week in and week out. "Honestly we just have to keep our eye on the prize, stay focused and keep working hard. I know for a fact the team has it in them. It's just a matter of whether we get it done or not." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Furniture Row Racing seeks second team by 2017
Team owner says sponsorship will be the key to go to two cars Furniture Row Racing is having its best season to date with driver Martin Truex Jr . earning 14 top-10 finishes in the first 17 races of the season, which has the Denver, Colorado-based organization looking toward the future. Owner Barney Visser told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Saturday that he would like to have a second team in less than two years. "We'd like to have (a second team) by '17," Visser said. "I doubt that it will happen by '16, but 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." In its 10th season, Furniture Row is a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifier for the second time in three years, having made its first Chase in 2013 with Kurt Busch . Truex earned the team's second win last month at Pocono Raceway to go with Regan Smith 's Southern 500 victory at Darlington Raceway in 2011. Visser rewarded his team members based in the Rocky Mountains with rings to celebrate its Pocono win. The owner noted the long hours and tight turnarounds that come with being located outside of the Charlotte, North Carolina, hub of racing . "This team, this last week, was probably a 100-hour week for them," Visser said. "The road crew, it's just brutal on them. Everyone in the shop, when we've had to turn cars around all year, sometimes we turned cars around in just a couple days. They put them back out. "The guys have done everything we've asked them to do, and I feel like they earned it." Earlier this season, Visser also said his team needed more manufacturer support than Chevrolet was currently providing, and the team had spoken with the sport's other manufacturers, Ford and Toyota. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Furniture Row lands Bass Pro Shops sponsorship
Furniture Row Racing announced a sponsorship agreement with Bass Pro Shops for the No. 78 Toyota driven by Martin Truex Jr . during their segment of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. The sponsorship is for nine races this season including the season-opening Daytona 500 . This is a reunion of sorts for the company and Truex, whose relationship with Bass Pro Shops dates back to his time running in the NASCAR XFINITY Series as well as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing (2004-09). "It's nice to have Bass Pro Shops back on my race car," Truex said Tuesday afternoon. "In addition to my passion for fishing, hunting and the outdoors, Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris is a personal friend and a hunting buddy. With our manufacturer changing to Toyota, our Furniture Row Racing team is positioned to take both companies to Victory Lane and contend for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship." Checkout @MartinTruex_Jr new ride @FR78Racing ! #CMSMediaTour pic.twitter.com/54ky60ElR9 — CharlotteMotorSpdwy (@CLTMotorSpdwy) January 19, 2016 "We are thrilled to continue our longstanding relationship with Martin Truex Jr . -- a passionate driver and outdoor lover -- while further aligning with our friends at Toyota," said Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops. "NASCAR is an excellent platform for Bass Pro Shops and we are pleased to continue our strong alignments with Tony Stewart , Ty Dillon and Jamie McMurray ." The added sponsor is not the only change for the single-car team based out of Denver, Colorado, in 2016. Last September, Furniture Row Racing announced it was moving to Toyota as its manufacturer and would have a technical alliance with fellow Toyota organization Joe Gibbs Racing . Truex made the Championship 4 on the heels of his strongest Sprint Cup season to date in 2015. The 35-year-old driver won the June race at Pocono Raceway and recorded a career-best eight top fives and 22 top 10s en route to a fourth-place finish in the standings. The 2016 campaign marks his third season with the team.