The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season couldn’t have gone any better for Furniture Row Racing. Erik Jones was solid as a rookie in the second car while Martin Truex Jr. won the season championship in his No. 78 Toyota.
Now, how can they back up what they did in 2017 with another magical season in 2018?
Here are their five storylines.
Back To 1 Car
FRR had always wanted to become a two-car Cup operation. To start the 2016 season, the team agreed to join forces with Toyota and be a satellite team with Joe Gibbs Racing. That move immediately paid off as Truex won four times and led 1,809 laps that year, all season highs for his career. It also led to Toyota putting Erik Jones with them for 2017, as they needed a place to house him for a year.
But, as Jones departs back to Joe Gibbs Racing, FRR loses the resources. So, back they are to just a one car operation.
While it’s not their ideal situation, it’s one that been the norm and shouldn’t hurt them whatsoever.
Truex’s Car Fully Funded
Since Monster Energy is the title sponsor of the Cup Series and the team is down a car, it left 5-Hour Energy available to move to Truex’s car. With him already having a ton of races funded from other deals, it means that for the first time in the teams’ history, they don’t need Furniture Row as a sponsor in 2018. All of Truex’s 38 races in the upcoming season are paid for by sponsors, which is huge for a once underfunded team.
Can Team Sustain Success?
After all the heartbreak that FRR has endured the last few years, they’ve had a ton of success. Last year, they reached the pinnacle. Now, can they stay there? Ask any athlete and they’ll tell you the same thing, the hardest thing is sports isn’t the road to the top, it’s staying there.
Now, FRR is there.
Will they be able to remain there for the entire 2018 season, especially with how much of bad luck they’ve had over the years?
3rd Straight Dominant Season?
Listen to these stats for Truex and FRR the last two years?
12 wins, 27 top five finishes, 43 top 10s and 4,062 laps led.
It’s an incredible wave of success that Truex and this team are on right now. He went from four wins in 2016 to eight in 2017. He also had improvements in top fives (8 to 19) and top 10’s (17 to 26) as well as laps led (1,809 to 2,253).
Can they continue that rise in 2018?
FRR Ahead Of The Game Again?
Last year’s success for FRR was big because they adapted. They were the first and real only team to embrace the new stage points and stage wins. Truex, had so many points accumulated because of those, he clinched a spot in the playoffs well before the end of the regular season. Now, with everyone seeing how crucial those points are and how to race for them, did FRR lay the blueprint in which everyone is going to try to copy? If so, can they beat them at their own game again?
Also, Truex was so good on 1.5-mile tracks. He was record setting good. Does that extend again in 2018?
Can Toyota Put a Full Season Together?
In 2016, Toyota stormed out of the gates and won eight of the first 13 races of the season. They’d in fact win 12 of the 26 regular season events. But, they struggled in the playoffs taking home just three wins.
In 2017, they won just two of the first 17 races and had only eight wins in the regular season. But, once they found victory lane on a regular basis, the wins kept coming.
Toyota’s won 14 of the final 19 races, including eight of the 10 playoff races last season.
Now, can they put a full season together? If so, that would be a scary sight for the competition.