Some matches just seem to be made in heaven, and such seems to be the case for the pairing of driver Martin Truex Jr. and crew chief Cole Pearn over at Furniture Row Racing. That or the team sure has hit on something.
After losing his ride at Michael Waltrip Racing through that Richmond (Va.) International Raceway “spin gate” scandal at the end of 2013, and then a dismal 2014 season in his debut with Furniture Row, longtime Cup driver Truex if flourishing, perhaps more than he ever has in his Cup career.
Kurt Busch used Furniture Row as a stepping stone, so-to-speak, on his way back up the ladder back in 2013, and the team based way outside NASCAR land in Denver, Colo., benefitted from it, with Busch posting 11 top-fives and 16 top-10 finishes in his one-off season with.
Meanwhile, Truex has been with perceived bigger name and higher dollar organizations like MWR and the now-defunct Dale Earnhardt Inc. before that. But I don’t think Furniture Row should be merely a stepping stone for Truex, and in reverse, I doubt FRR is looking at Truex as a seat filler until the next best thing comes along.
Former middle-class race team, meet former mediocre driver. Why do I say that? Look at the numbers before this Furniture Row/Truex marriage, if you will. Prior to Truex’s arrival, Furniture Row did have a win, but that was several years ago, back when Regan Smith was with the team and he won the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. Yeah, the team had a good winless year with Busch, but that was one year in a fairly lengthy history.
Then, there’s Truex. He’s a two-time winner at the Sprint Cup level, winning once back in 2007 and then again in 2013. That’s two wins since his first full Cup season back in 2006. Yeah, there are drivers out there who, at this point, would be happy with a single win, but we’re talking about top-level NASCAR racing, here.
Okay, I realize that Truex and Furniture Row Racing haven’t won together, at least not yet, and they’re in the second year of this marriage. And I have to say, year one was rather rocky. But they’re in their “honeymoon phase now” and things are looking up.
Truex and company may not have a win to show for their efforts, yet, but it sure looks like a trip to victory lane is coming, and probably soon. They have 11 top-10 finishes in the 12 races, so far. Only one other driver can make that claim — reigning series champion Kevin Harvick — yeah, that guy.
Wins, or lack thereof aside, Truex is putting up numbers similar to those of Harvick. Oh, and by the way, Truex looked to be on his way to that elusive win last weekend in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He led the most laps but wound up fifth in a fuel mileage race.
Over the years, Furniture Row Racing may have been viewed as a stepping stone on the way up the ladder to, hopefully, rides with the “big dogs” like Hendrick Motorsports and/or Joe Gibbs Racing. Meanwhile, Truex may previously been viewed as a middle-of-the-road driver — okay, no Kyle Busch, but he does have some talent.
These two middle-of-the-road entities are probably sure glad they crossed each other’s paths right about now, though. I think Truex was just what FRR needed and Furniture Row is just what Truex needed at this point in each other’s lives.
Is that the definition of a co-dependent relationship? Maybe that’s what they’ve got going. Could an anniversary gift come in the form of a Chase for the Sprint Cup ticket? It’s looking like a distinct possibility.