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Is Furniture Row Racing the Next New Powerhouse in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series?
Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing are typically the names that roll off the tongue when referencing powerhouse organizations in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
One that is jockeying to join the list is Furniture Row Racing as the organization has blossomed from a single-car team to a championship contender for a third consecutive season. The two-car team headlined by Martin Truex Jr., along with promising young rookie Erik Jones, has become the team to beat this season.
Truex Jr., who finished fourth in the championship standings in his second season with Furniture Row Racing in 2015, has served as the catalyst for the organization’s championship push.
A victory in last weekend’s road course race at Watkins Glen International has matched his last year’s record-setting total for most wins in a season with four. Truex Jr. is poised to eclipse last year’s mark for yet another record season and ultimately putting himself in prime championship contention.
“This team has been incredible,” Truex Jr. said. “What we did last year I felt like we underachieved really often and felt like we were a lot better team than we showed even though we had some good results. We’ve had some bad luck along the way this year, but things have gone right and we’ve been more consistent.”
Consistency has been the preeminent word for Truex Jr. and his Toyota-powered No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team. Truex Jr. has the most wins of any driver and has finished inside the top 10 in 15 of the 22 races this season.
“Just coming together as a group,” Truex Jr. said of his team. “This is our fourth year together and we just keep getting stronger. It takes time to get these things all to gel and to figure out all of these tracks, and figure out how to deal with the ups and downs of this sport and we feel like we’ve done a good job of that. We paid our dues and now we’re kind of reaping the benefits.”
With the victories comes the opportunity to pad his lead for the postseason. Having already secured a spot in NASCAR’s 16-driver playoff, Truex Jr. is afforded the opportunity to take gambles and not worry about points.
Truex Jr. has tallied 34 playoff points, 18 more than the second-closest competitor in Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson. Crew chief Cole Pearn understands the need to go for victories and further his playoff advantage.
“You can’t have enough (playoff points),” Pearn said. “I mean, the best way to get a lead is to keep winning them and not let other people win them. … The more we can get, the better.”
For other Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams, that’s only bad news and points to a strong chance at Truex Jr. becoming a championship contender once the season concludes at Homestead-Miami Speedway.