The whole debacle that was the Federated Auto Parts 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway a couple of weeks ago may have turned out bad for Michael Waltrip Racing after that organization’s alleged attempts to manipulate the finish and the finishing order of the race in an effort to get one of its drivers, Martin Truex Jr., into the Chase backfired. But there is one team that may wind up benefitting from the whole MWR mess — Furniture Row Racing.
Part of the fallout from Richmond included an announcement from longtime sponsor NAPA that it was pulling the plug on its sponsorship of Truex’s No. 56 Toyota at the end of the year, despite having two years remaining on its contract with the team, because of MWR’s collective actions at Richmond.
As a result, Truex may find himself out of his ride at MWR. Michael Waltrip Racing wasn’t planning on not having full sponsorship of its No. 56 after the end of the 2013 season, so the organization finds itself with a car that will be completely void of primary sponsorship once the current season ends. Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Michael Waltrip acknowledged on Friday that NAPA’s decision puts Truex’s future with MWR in question. Waltrip said that team officials are looking at options and that Truex has been told that if another opportunity presents itself to him elsewhere, MWR would not hold him back.
While nobody connected to the situation has come out and said it, it looks like there’s a pretty good chance that Truex is out at Michael Waltrip Racing, that is when the 2013 season concludes.
Hey, Furniture Row Racing is looking for a driver. This year, Kurt Busch has raised the stock for Furniture Row’s No. 78 team. With Busch behind the wheel, Furniture Row became the first single-car team to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship postseason and the first team not based in the Charlotte, N.C., area to make the Chase. This team, although small compared to its counterparts, is now viewed as at least somewhat of a championship contender.
Busch is heading over to Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of the year. After the announcement of Busch’s departure, FRR, reportedly, talked to Juan Pablo Montoya about the No. 78 seat, since Montoya was relieved of his driving duties at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, effective at the end of the season. But Montoya has opted to make a return to IndyCar, so it looks like the No. 78 ride is still available.
According to The Sporting News, Furniture Row Racing is interested in Truex.
“He would certainly be on the radar to talk to,” FRR General Manager Joe Garone told The Sporting News. “He’s more than qualified to drive the No. 78.”
Of course, it’s still uncertain whether or not Truex will lose his ride at MWR, so we don’t know yet whether or not he’s going to be a late entry into the silly season game. But if Truex does end up on the market, the way it looks now, he’ll be the best driver commodity of those still available, while Furniture Row Racing looks to have the best seat still left to fill. It would only make sense for the two to pair up.
Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook.
Check out this Furniture Row Racing photo gallery (photos courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR):