Barney Visser

Dustin Long

Barney Visser back at track, still recovering from heart ailment

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Barney Visser won’t be back to full health for at least another three months, but the owner of Furniture Row Racing will attend tomorrow’s Daytona 500 three months after a heart attack scare.

The episode kept Visser from seeing Martin Truex Jr. win the team’s first Cup championship in person.

It occurred on Nov. 4 and he underwent bypass surgery two days later.

“There’s nothing like getting new pipes,” Visser said Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. “As good as I feel now, this is a home run.”

Visser, who has fielded cars in NASCAR since 2005, was back at a track for the first time on Friday.

“I missed the people and the competitive spirit,” Visser said. “I heard the engines fire up the other day, and I realized how much I missed that.”

Visser’s health scare was preceded by six months of angina, a symptom of coronary artery disease.

“It was just a burning lung sensation that would come and go,” Visser said. “So I should have paid more attention to that.  But my arm was numb all night the night before I went in (to the hospital), and usually you get up in the morning and you shake that stuff off, but it just wouldn’t shake off.  So I went into the hospital, and they started running tests and did an angiogram that afternoon, and they couldn’t stent it after ‑‑ they’ll try to stent it if they can, and one of them was 99 percent blocked, and they just couldn’t do it. I had to wait for a bypass on Monday.

“If there was a heart attack, and the doctors in the hospital told me there was, my cardiologist ‑‑ these guys take a lot of pride in this stuff and whether or not the patients have heart ‑‑ he doesn’t think I did because of the numbers, but I think what happened is on the gurney on the way to the angiogram, it just felt like somebody was ripping my chest open, and I started complaining about it, and they handed me a nitroglycerin, and I passed out at that point and don’t remember much after that.  They did the angiogram, and I remember a bossy little woman who was the doctor.  She was an angioplasty specialist, and she was going to do the stent.  Everyone was terrified of her.  That’s all I remember about that.”

Visser said his father underwent bypass surgery 40 years ago. But the team owner said he never thought he wouldn’t make it through the procedure.

Visser believes he’ll have more energy at the race track following his ordeal.

“I feel like I’ll have a little more gas after the race now,” Visser said.  “I remember Claire (B Lang of SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) talking to me a few times after wins, and I don’t ‑‑ I just was almost dead.  I didn’t realize how tired I was.  I think it’ll be better now.  I’m looking forward to that.”

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Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing earn Colorado Sportsperson, Team of the Year honors

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Martin Truex Jr. continues to rack up the honors.

The defending NASCAR Cup champion was named Friday as the 2017 Colorado Sportsperson of the Year by Mile High Sports magazine.

Truex’s photo is on the cover of the current Mile High Sports. He was also named Colorado’s “Fan Favorite” Athlete of the year in a fan vote on the magazine’s website, MileHighSports.com.

In addition, the magazine named Furniture Row Racing as Colorado Team of the Year. FRR president Joe Garone was a finalist for the magazine’s Executive of the Year.

“What Martin Truex Jr. and Furniture Row Racing did this year was not only unprecedented for the team and the state, but it was hands down the best sports story of the year,” Mile High Sports magazine editor-in-chief Doug Ottewill said in a media release. “What he had to go through personally, what the team had to overcome along the way – all of it made our choice for Sportsperson of the Year an easy one.

“This is our highest honor – the big one, the one that the likes of John Elway, Peyton Manning, Missy Franklin and Chauncey Billups have won – and it thrills me to be able to add Martin Truex Jr. to that list.”

Driver of the No. 78 FRR Toyota Camry, Truex earned a NASCAR Cup series-high eight wins, capped off with a win in the season-ending and championship-deciding race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

He also led virtually every major statistical category.

“Individual honors in a team sport are a result of the people you are surrounded with,” Truex said in a statement. “I feel blessed to be part of an outstanding organization led by our owner Barney Visser, team president Joe Garone and crew chief Cole Pearn.

“These honors represent the hard work by the talented individuals at our Denver race shop. I want to thank Mile High Sports and all our passionate Colorado race fans for the support they have given our team through the years.”

Furniture Row Racing, which calls the Denver, Colorado area home, is the only active NASCAR Cup team based west of the Mississippi River and 1,500 miles from the Charlotte, North Carolina area, where most NASCAR teams are based.

“I guess we have heard ’that’s impossible, you will never do that’ for the last time,” Visser said in a statement. “We are very proud of our Denver roots and to receive these prestigious awards in our home state makes it even more special.

“The Colorado fans have been loyal followers of our team and we are honored to bring a major championship to the state.”

The Colorado honors add to an already lengthy list of awards that Truex, Pearn and Furniture Row Racing have earned, including:

* Truex was recently named New Jersey Sportsperson of the Year.

* For the second consecutive year, Truex was named Eastern Motorsport Press Association Al Holbert Memorial National Driver of the Year.

* AutoWeek magazine named Truex Driver of the Year and Furniture Row Racing was named Team of the Year.

* NASCAR.com named Truex Driver of the Year, Pearn was named Crew Chief of the Year and Furniture Row Racing was named Team of the Year. Truex and longtime partner Sherry Pollex were also awarded Best Moment Off The Track.

* Truex and Pollex were awarded the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Myers Brothers Award.

Martin Truex Jr. heads to Miami looking to cap off career-best year with Cup title

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The 35-race preamble is over for the Cup Series and Martin Truex Jr.

After dominating all season in almost every statistical category, Truex now knows who he has to fend off to win the Cup title .

The Furniture Row Racing driver will face Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19 (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC).

The 37-year-old driver stands out among the group. He’s the only one without a Cup title.

“That means it’s my turn,” Truex said.

The No. 78 team heads into the race after finishing third at Phoenix.

Truex placed in the top three in all three Round of 8 races. Those three top fives give him a season-high 18. Keselowski is tied with Denny Hamlin for second with 15.

Among those top fives for Truex are a series- and career-best seven wins.

“Definitely excited about the position we’re in, to go to Homestead,” Truex said “Feel like we’ve got a lot of momentum, we’ve got a lot of consistency in our team, and doing all the right things right now. ”

With a series-best 19 stage wins and 2,175 laps led, Truex is the statistical favorite heading into the Ford EcoBoost 400. The season finale is held at a 1.5-mile track. Truex has earned six of his seven wins on similar tracks.

“If I’m the favorite, perfect, I like that,” Truex said. “I think it’s a better position to be in.  I was the underdog before (in 2015) and I finished fourth, so yeah, bring it on.”

Truex will try to capture his first Cup title in his 12th full-time season. Keselowski’s title (2012) was in his third season, Busch’s in his 11th season (2015) and Harvick’s title came in his 14th (2014).

“I don’t think it’s any extra pressure at all,” Truex said. “I have a lot of respect for all three of these guys. Two of them were in the Final Four when I made it in 2015 (Busch and Harvick). Definitely have a little bit of experience in this position, but you know, honestly just excited about the opportunity. I feel like we’re in a whole lot better spot as a team than we were the first time we had a shot at it, and we’re going to go out there and just do the best job we can do.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in our team right now and what we’re doing, and I think today was a perfect example of that for us, so just keep doing what we’re doing, go down to Miami and just have fun and do what we know how to do. Do the best job we possibly can and hopefully come out on top.”

If Truex does take the title, he will do it without the presence of team owner Barney Visser at the track.

Visser is recovering from bypass surgery on Nov. 6, two days after he suffered a heart attack. Truex said he had been home since Friday.

“It’s definitely a bummer,” Truex said. “For a long time he thought he was bad luck because we only won when he was not here. So if we do win it next weekend and he’s not there, he may never show up again.”

 

Furniture Row Racing will return to being a single-car team in 2018

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After a few months of speculation, Furniture Row Racing will contract to a single-car organization in NASCAR’s premier series next season.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, team owner Barney Visser confirmed the move, which he had been hinting at since July. Visser has said a lack of sponsorship next year might preclude fielding the No. 77, which has been driven by rookie Erik Jones this season. It was the first time since its inception over a decade ago that Visser’s Denver-based team had fielded two Cup cars.

In 2018, Jones will return to Joe Gibbs Racing.

That will leave Martin Truex Jr.‘s No. 78 Toyota as the lone entry next year for Furniture Row Racing. Here’s the statement from Visser:

As Furniture Row Racing looks ahead to the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season, the Denver, Colo. based team is not planning to field the No. 77 Toyota as a second car entry. It is our organization’s goal to operate a two-car team in the future and we will continue to seek sponsorship funding for the No. 77. Our 100 percent focus for next season will be on the No 78 Toyota Camry, which will be driven by Martin Truex Jr.

Furniture Row Racing sells charter from No. 77 car for next season

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JOLIET, Illinois — Furniture Row Racing has sold its charter for the No. 77 team for next year but is still looking for sponsorship to run the car in 2018.

Joe Garone, president of Furniture Row Racing, said the team sold the charter — he declined to name what team purchased it — because of lack of sponsorship for the No. 77 team next year.

“We’re still working on obtaining sponsorship,’’ Garone said Friday at Chicagoland Speedway. “If something happens in the next few weeks, it’s definitely not dead. We definitely want to keep the 77 running, but we’re running out of time.’’

Garone concedes the chances of the organization being a single-car team next year are “high.’’

Even without a charter, a team can run in the series. Any team that has a charter must run every race. If they skip a race, they lose the charter immediately and the financial benefits that go with it.

Garone acknowledged that if the team found sponsorship to run the car for the full season, there would be the opportunity to lease or buy a charter from another team.

Garone said Furniture Row Racing will not lay off any employes if it contracts to one car next season. A couple of positions will follow rookie Erik Jones to Joe Gibbs Racing next season. Garone concedes those who work on the road crew and want to continue to do that also could leave.

“We’re hoping everyone will stay,’’ Garone said.

“As far as the shop goes, we’re going to be one really strong single-car team.’’

Garone said that 5-hour Energy will remain with Furniture Row Racing and would move to the No. 78 of Martin Truex Jr.

Garone said team owner Barney Visser is not interested in running a second car in a limited number of races next year.

“If the 77 runs … it will be running for a championship, not just a partial (season),’’ Garone said.

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