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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup

5 BIGGEST STORYLINES OF 2017: David vs. Goliath

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From the Daytona 500 in February to the last checkered flag of the year at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November, the world of left turns – with an occasional right – keeps everybody on the edge of their seats. While the on-track action keeps eyes peeled on the asphalt, the discussion, and headlines generated away from the competition result in plenty of water cooler talk.

The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season was no exception, as there were lots to talk about right from the beginning. As we close a chapter on another year, POPULAR SPEED is going to reflect upon the five most significant storylines in a series of articles.

We went from retirement to the youth movement, before sparking a rivalry and introducing stage racing. But of course, everything came together for the perfect David vs. Goliath climax to the NASCAR season.

It has been long believed in NASCAR competition that to succeed, you need a lot of resources and a multi-car organization to help you build your program up. When it came to choosing who would be the series champion at year’s end, lots of times fans would point towards the likes of Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Team Penske, among others.

Would you ever believe that Furniture Row Racing would be on that list? Maybe not if you go back a couple seasons ago.

For one, the team has gone a different route than traditionally believed to be the right road, setting up shop in Colorado versus being down in North Carolina in NASCAR’s hub. The logistics and distance from the rest make it seem impossible. However, they proved otherwise.

It wasn’t easy starting out, though. Imagine waiting six seasons just to get your first top-10. 

Though once they had success, it just seemed to come together. Regan Smith won the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in 2011, then Kurt Busch placed them in the year-end top-10 in points in 2013.

As they say, you need the right combination of people. Enter Martin Truex Jr., looking to get things back on-track after being caught in a scandal at Michael Waltrip Racing. Enter Cole Pearn, an engineer from Canada ready for his big break as a crew chief.

It also takes putting the right pieces together, and they managed to find a gem in a partnership with Toyota Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing the past two years. 

Looking at the road they took to success, it gives hope to other small teams – like Leavine Family Racing, and even Richard Petty Motorsports as they’ve hit some recent lows – that it is indeed possible to put together results. But make no mistake, it’s no easy task, either.

“It’s got it’s ultimate times, and it’s a struggle at other times,” Michael McDowell told POPULAR SPEED recently. “So when you’re on the up-swing and things are going well, it’s a great feeling. But also, the struggles of being a small team and being underfunded and all those things when you’re struggling, it makes it tough. It’s hard to overcome and bounce back.”

Least now there is a sign of hope at the other end of the tunnel.



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Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.