When Furniture Row Racing began operations in 2005, it was yet another start-up Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team. Start-up teams have rarely, at least in the last couple of decades, found top-tier success. Mid to the back of the pack finishes are the normal routine and funding is hard to come by. Thankfully for Furniture Row Racing, owned by Barney Visser, it worked a little differently and that’s helped get his team to championship contention.
Visser’s No. 78 has been around for 12 years now with Furniture Row on the hood most of that tenure. As it turns out, Visser co-owns Furniture Row, essentially self-sponsoring the team all these years. Why is that significant? It’s allowed his small team based in Denver, CO to survive and that survival has propelled the team to heights even the top teams wish they were at today.
It took Furniture Row Racing several years to find success, going through a few driver and crew chief changes. The first sign of improvement came when they aligned themselves with Richard Childress Racing in 2010. Their alliance yielded some results, most notably, the teams’ first-ever win in the Southern 500 with driver Regan Smith in 2011. The success was inconsistent yet the team remained on the race track with every intention to keep improving and become more competitive.
The 2013 season was a turning point for the team, with former Cup champion Kurt Busch behind the wheel with former Richard Childress Racing crew chief Todd Berrier on the pit box. With two former winners guiding the team, their success began to blossom. The No. 78 Chevrolet was competitive the entire season and the team made the Chase for the first time. It was a game-changing season as the team showcased just how strong they could be.
Martin Truex Jr. became the new driver for the team in 2014 and, simply didn’t have the same level of success that Kurt Busch did just one year earlier. The car was still funded by the team owner Visser and it appeared that maybe the team would return to the level of success that it had before the 2013 season. However, a crew chief change at the end of 2014, to engineer Cole Pearn, seemed to spark their performance and the season ended on a strong note. That became the infant stages of greatness for the driver and crew chief combination.
2015 became the team’s best season so far, with Truex visiting victory lane at Pocono in June and making the Chase for the championship. Truex raced strongly throughout the entire Chase and finished the year fourth in the point standings as part of the Championship Round of 4. As it turned out, it was their last season with Chevrolet with a switch to Toyota and a new alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing beginning in 2016.
The Toyota switch brought Furniture Row Racing to an all new level as the team once again made the Chase in 2016 and won four races. Most notably, the team had funding for most of the season from Bass Pro Shops and Auto-Owners Insurance, as well as a couple of other partners. It was the first season the team had significant funding from outside the organization. In 2017, Furniture Row Racing once again has significant funding for the No. 78 and even added a second team with rookie Erik Jones in the No. 77, funded largely by Five Hour Energy. Both teams have enjoyed success with Truex leading the way with seven wins and a strong footing atop the Playoff standings with just four races remaining.
2018 will see Furniture Row Racing return to a one-car team with Truex but for the first time, they will have full season sponsorship. It’s quite a change from the early years when they were a self-funded team. Their success helped this team survive and turn Furniture Row Racing into the little team that could.