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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup

Michigan Success Defines Rise of Furniture Row Racing  

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It has been a rare occurrence in recent decades that a small team can build itself up and become a top-tier organization in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Many have emerged at the premiere level only to eventually fold a couple of years down the road due to the challenges associated with competing with the sport’s established teams.

However, Furniture Row Racing has been an exception, emerging as a powerhouse organization.

They reached a significant milestone in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway, placing two cars in the top-five for the first time since beginning to field two entries this season.

Not only did they finish well but Martin Truex Jr. and Erik Jones dominated, running up front and at times occupying the top two positions.

Had it not been for Kyle Larson charging to the lead on the final restart, the two FRR cars looked to be in a position to battle for the win. 

However, there is no disappointment in placing second and third as it attests to their rapid growth since hiring Truex Jr. in 2014.

When the former Michael Waltrip Racing driver climbed behind the wheel, he struggled mightily, only capturing five top-10 finishes and leading just one lap in his first year. 

After a season of working together, FRR turned a corner in 2015.

Truex Jr. won at Pocono, earning the second victory for the stable after Regan Smith won at Darlington in 2011, and scored eight top-five’s and 22 top-10’s. 

This stout performance earned the No. 78 team a spot in the playoffs for the second time in its history which ultimately led to a run to the Championship 4.

While Truex Jr. didn’t take home the title, the story of an underdog team from Denver, Colorado in contention for the season’s biggest prize captured significant attention.

Developing an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota during the following season was the next major step leading to their success today as Truex Jr. emerged as one of the best drivers in 2016.

The group stepped it up again in 2017, not only adding a second entry with Jones behind the wheel but proving more competitive than ever before now with two cars.

Truex Jr. has continued to dominate, leading the series with four wins, and blowing out the field in the playoff points column. Jones has also fared well for a rookie with two third-place finishes to his name. 

There is no doubt that Truex Jr. will be the championship favorite heading into the Playoffs. By carrying in at least 50 playoff points including the 15 additional points that he will pick up by winning the regular season title, he is essentially a lock for the season finale.

Being in this position highlights the remarkable rise for FRR. Not many expected this level of success when they first opened operations in 2005, but it’s a testament to the hard work and leadership of owner Barney Visser.

Whether or not they take home the title this season, expect this organization to remain as fierce championship contenders for years to come.

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Jason Schultz

Jason Schultz aspires to enter the public relations field of NASCAR. Schultz, 19, attends UNC Charlotte and is a communication studies major with a focus in public relations. In addition to contributing to POPULAR SPEED, Schultz produces podcasts for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Dirty Mo Radio. He also completed a semester as a social media intern at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Each year, he volunteers as the social media correspondent for Autism Delaware's Drive for Autism golf tournament featuring NASCAR personalities and the AAA 400 Drive for Autism Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover.