Martin Truex Jr. has a chance to repeat as Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway alongside his Furniture Row Racing team. Whatever the result, the team will not be continuing their success streak into the 2019 season as the 400 will be FRR’s final race before shutdown.
In September, team owner Barney Visser announced he would be shuttering his operation following the 2018 season. Despite the team’s success in recent years, sponsorship and rising costs of maintaining an alliance with fellow Toyota team Joe Gibbs Racing ultimately doomed it. Truex will move to JGR’s #19 car in 2019.
The only team located west of the Mississippi River, FRR’s haulers left Denver for Miami on Wednesday. With its proximity and start as a small organisation before blossoming into one of the sport’s top teams, FRR has become a textbook example of a successful underdog story in NASCAR.
Throughout its history, FRR’s #78 has sported a matte black paint scheme with Furniture Row logos, though the design was replaced by a new livery for the 2018 season as the team acquired enough sponsorship to avoid self-sponsorship. For the Ford EcoBoost 400, FRR decided to make a return to the original look with Bass Pro Shops and 5-hour Energy as sponsors.
“Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota will have familiar look in this weekend’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway,” a team release stated. “The flat back paint scheme that for years became synonymous with Furniture Row Racing will return to the track for one last time as a tribute to the team’s final race in the NASCAR Cup Series.”
After thirty-five races in 2018, Truex and FRR have recorded four wins, including twelve since 2017. Entering its 451st and final race, FRR has eighteen total wins, with all but one coming from Truex (Regan Smith won the team’s first race in the 2011 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway).
Although a team shutdown typically means unemployment for its members, FRR President Joe Garone pointed out of the 63 employees, all but 22 have secured new jobs for 2019. Some will remain with Visser by working for other companies under his ownership.
“[Visser] absolutely did not want to quit,” Garone said. “We tried to put it together to where we could continue running, and we couldn’t do it.”