Martin Truex Jr. and Furniture Row Racing win the feel good story of the year. While they’re not necessarily owed the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship, they’ve certainly earned it. They’ve also earned the championship in feel good moments too.
For Truex, what an amazing story he is.
In 2013, he thought he made the playoffs. Unfortunately, amid a cheating scandal not of his doing, he was taken back out. He would lose his sponsor NAPA, then his team in Michael Waltrip Racing due to the aftermath of that costly decision the team made Clint Bowyer do at Richmond. Truex would land with Furniture Row though, thinking it would be a stepping stone. Then, in 2014, while in the midst of a tough taxing season, he’d find out his longtime girlfriend was now battling cancer.
From making the playoffs, to being forced out for a problem not of his doing, to losing his sponsor, his ride and now his girlfriend having a life altering bout with cancer, Truex was facing adversity. He signed with a team based in Colorado, that had one career win. Where did he go wrong?
Now, it’s how did he get so blessed?
After a long season in 2014, Truex rebounded in 2015 winning a race and making it to the final round of the playoffs. It was the ultimate Cinderalla story. In 2016, Truex was strong again, but still had some heartbreaking moments at the end of races. While he led 1,809 laps and won four races, it could have been more. Truex, had a very strong year last year too, but he didn’t make it to the Championship 4.
In 2017, it has all come back around.
Truex, had seven career victories entering this season, he has seven wins this year alone. He’s led 2,175 laps and has 18 top fives and 25 top 10’s to his credit. He’s the championship favorite.
My how the move to FRR has been a blessing in disguise.
At DEI and MWR, Truex had just two wins, 31 top fives and 90 top 10 finishes in a 10 year span. He’d lead 1,889 total laps.
But, in just four seasons with FRR, Truex has 12 wins, 35 top fives, 69 top 10’s and led 4,552 laps. That’s a long way from those DEI/MWR and even first year with FRR where he led just one single lap all year.
As far as Furniture Row, that’s an great story too. FRR started off as a single car field fuller per say. They didn’t have the budget or resources to contend with the big boys. Let alone, they’re doing it from Colorado where everyone else is in North Carolina. In 2006, they DNQ’d 16 times. In 2007, they were a DNQ 17 more times. In 2008, that number dropped to four, but their best finish in those three years was 11th in 2008 at Talladega. They’d have 10 drivers behind the wheel of their cars from the inception in 2005 through 2008.
In 2009, they scaled back to part-time effort with Regan Smith, appearing in 20 race weekends. They DNQ’s in two of them. But, 2010 they had their best season, coming back to full-time and finishing 29th in the final standings. Still, no finish was better than 11th in that 2008 race at Talladega.
In 2011, Smith finished seventh in the Daytona 500 and even won the Southern 500. It was a dream come true. They’d have five top 10 finishes and come home 26th in the final points standings.
Smith was back in 2012, but Kurt Busch was brought in to close out the year. Smith, had three top 10’s, including a fifth place run at Talladega in the fall, but was replace by Busch a week later.
Busch, put them into the playoffs in 2013 and had them contending. He’d score 11 top fives that season and finish 10th in the final standings. But, when they hired Truex for 2014, it was a move that made this team a championship contender.
While Truex struggled in 2014, he’s been fantastic since.
This team went from 33 DNQ’s in a two year span to contending for a championship a decade later.