Furniture Row Racing came onto the NASCAR scene in 2006. In a day and age where start and parks were a prominent part of the back of any NASCAR field, FRR jumped in and hoped that a business model of that sort could get them off the ground.
It wasn’t until 2010 that they started all 36 races. One year later they got their first top 10 finish. In 2006, they attempted to qualifying for all 36 races. They were a DNQ in 17 of them. Same for 2007 too. Literally.
2008, they made 32 races and things started rolling. In 2009, they didn’t even show up for 16 races but made the rest.
By 2012, they were saw the start of a turnaround. That’s when team owner Barney Visser said that they made the first real turn of promise.
“I think the real serious turning point was when (crew chief) Todd Berrier came to Denver to join our team (July, 2012),” said Visser. “He raised the quality of our race cars and operation. He just brought a lot of things to us, and because of him, we started attracting more good people. We heard that Kurt (Busch) wanted to work with Todd, so we brought in Kurt. Todd and Cole came as a team. So with Todd, Kurt and Cole we had a strong nucleus and knew we were headed in the right direction. We became the first single-car team to make the playoffs with Todd, Cole and Kurt in 2013.
Regan Smith won the Southern 500 in 2012 but Kurt Busch took them a step further in 2013, he made the playoffs. Busch, had 11 top five finishes, a season high for the team. 2014, the team found a gem in Martin Truex Jr. When they aligned with Toyota for 2016, the second wave of a turnaround really came and its been game on from there.
“I always thought we could,” Visser said on if he ever thought that they’d end up where they came from. “For the last five or six years I knew we could. We knew we were building fast race cars and progressing in the right direction. Regan (Smith) won at Darlington, beating Carl Edwards to the finish. That showed everyone that we could build fast cars. Because of that we kept on attracting good people and eventually joined forces with Toyota and forged a successful technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing. The chips were starting to fall in the right place and our record of reaching the final four in three of the last four years is a pretty strong statement about the caliber of our team.”
Since 2016, FRR has won 16 races and dominated the NASCAR circuit. They’ve went from a start and park to one of the best teams in NASCAR’s premiere series. Now, due to the lack of funding, despite winning last year’s championship and being back to the Championship 4 this year, the team is shutting down.
That has a wave of emotions for everyone this weekend, Visser included. He’s not left to reflect on what has been a great decade plus of racing in NASCAR.
“There are so many memories, I can’t separate them. Not a good question for me. Losing the Daytona 500 by a thousandth of a second might not be a good memory, but winning the championship last year sure made up for that Daytona loss. The championship was so hard to accomplish and at the same time so satisfying.”