While much of the focus was on laser inspections and potential penalties, another revelation about the winner of Sunday’s Sprint Cup playoff opener largely went unnoticed.
Race winner Martin Truex Jr. stayed with Furniture Row Racing for less than market value.
Team owner Barney Visser, a mostly taciturn sort who casually drops bombshells with his blunt manner sometimes, noted toward the end of Sunday’s postrace news conference that Truex re-signed for 2016 at a discounted rate.
“He drove for a little bit less this year than I think a lot of the drivers in his class have, and he did it because he wanted to be here,” Visser said. “I can’t thank him enough for all that.”
Appearing at the news conference after Visser had departed, Truex confirmed the account.
“It’s not something I normally talk about but since he brought it up, Barney has put a lot into his race team over the years obviously,” Truex said. “Seeing Furniture Row on that race car each and every year, that’s Barney’s racecar, and Barney is the one funding it.
“He had to change some things in the way he was running his race team. He asked me if I would kind of not take the hit, but be the one that took a little bit of a hit for the team to make sure we could keep the competition up and make sure we could continue to get the things we needed to be competitive and win races and hopefully go after a championship.”
Truex re-signed with the Denver-based team for one year when its 2016 move to Toyota was announced a year ago. Last month, Furniture Row announced a two-year extension through 2018 with Truex in conjunction with unveiling its expansion next year to a second car with Erik Jones.
Truex, who reached the championship round last season and has four victories with Furniture Row, said he had opportunities to drive for other teams.
“I believe this is the best team I’ve ever had,” he said. “This is my best opportunity to win races, and we’ve proven that. It’s my best opportunity, and really only my second opportunity, since last year, to go for a championship. That wasn’t something I was willing to get rid of or throw away, so I made the commitment to Barney we were going to do it. We were going to work together and make it work for everybody.”