furniture row racing

NASCAR America: Despite stage wins, Martin Truex Jr. still needs to close out races

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Martin Truex Jr. is having a really good year. But it could be even better.

After 16 races in the Cup Series season, Truex and his Furniture Row Racing team are second in the points standings after two race wins, at Kansas Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

But they also have a vast lead over the competition when it comes to stage wins with 11, the latest coming in Stage 1 at Sonoma Raceway. But their race ended in the garage with less than 25 laps left after Truex’s No. 78 Toyota had engine problems.

NASCAR America analyst Jeff Burton discussed how Furniture Row Racing needs to be finishing out races after consistently dominating the early portions.

“When the playoffs start we’re going to see the advantage that Martin Truex Jr. and his team have built for themselves,” Burton said. “The one thing that concerns me is that they haven’t won the races they’ve been in position (to). Things have come up, had issues. They’re going to have to find a way later in the playoffs to fix that. … When you’re running this well, small things show up. When you’re running 15th, the problems they’re having finishing races, you don’t even notice them.”

Watch the above video for more on Truex.

NASCAR America: How Joe Gibbs Racing, Furniture Row Racing work together

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In the second year of a technical alliance between Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row Racing, things have been going better for the latter.

Through 15 races, Martin Truex Jr. has two wins for Furniture Row while Joe Gibbs Racing has no wins with the combined efforts of Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez.

Truex also has a significant lead over all teams in stage wins with 10 following the race at Michigan. Kyle Busch has the most for JGR with four.

NASCAR America’s analysts discussed how a relationship between the two teams works, especially when the smaller teams seems to be benefiting more.

“You get technical information, you get aerodynamic concepts and thoughts, engineering support, everything is given to you,” said Slugger Labbe. “It’s not for free. It comes at a healthy price, I’m certain. The main thing though is that Joe Gibbs Racing provides the pit crew to this team. So if the 78 or 77 team (Erik Jones) have an issue with a part or a bad pit stop, they don’t worry about it. They hand the parts back to Joe Gibbs Racing, they talk to the pit crew coach and say ‘hey, this jackman had an issue or this tire changer had an issue.’ They solve the problem. What that allows Furniture Row Racing to do is worry about speed.”

Watch the rest of above video for more.

Martin Truex Jr. starting from rear in Pocono 400 after engine change

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Martin Truex Jr. will start from the rear in today’s Pocono 400 after Furniture Row Racing changed the engine in his No. 78 Toyota.

Truex, the points leader, qualified second for the race at Pocono Raceway.

Truex, the winner of this race in 2015, joins Dale Earnhardt Jr., who swept the Pocono races in 2014, in starting from the rear due to an engine change. Earnhardt’s team changed engines in the No. 88 Chevrolet following Friday’s practice session.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will also go to the rear for an unapproved body adjustment.

NASCAR executive defends rules package after lackluster All-Star Race

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After an All-Star race that featured three lead changes in 70 laps, a senior NASCAR executive defended the rules package but conceded that the option tire “didn’t make a huge impact.’’

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, told “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that one race isn’t going to lead to significant rule changes.

“I think we’ve got to keep it in context,’’ O’Donnell said Monday. “I find it ironic that you can go from one week of everyone saying this is the greatest rules package and then you walk into one race with a bit of a different format (and opinions not as high). We feel still really bullish on the rules package we have, the work we’ve done with the industry to get where we’re at. Certainly you want every race to be the best it possibly can be.

“We’ve got to look at the facts and the facts are a lot of different organizations winning this year, the (manufacturers) having an ability to win, Kyle (Busch) his first win ever (in Cup) at Charlotte, which is surprising to me, and a lot of young drivers really putting their names out there competing out front. Really like where we’re at right now.

“Our job is to look at the whole year. If I reacted to every comment you had on Twitter, it would be very different. It’s one of those things we’ve got to look at the overall picture, we’ve got to take the input from everybody in the industry and we do that. I think from a rules package standpoint we continue to see the sport moving in the right direction in terms of what we’re seeing in competitiveness from different organizations. That’s really how we judge it from an overall standpoint and not just one race.’’

Heading into this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600, there have been eight different winners in the first 11 races. There have been at least eight different winners in the first 11 races in three of the last four years.

Among organizations, seven different teams have scored victories this season: Chip Ganassi Racing, Furniture Row Racing, Team Penske, Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Richard Childress Racing. Four organizations had won a race in the first 11 events last year and in 2015.

In the five races run on 1.5-mile tracks this season — Atlanta, Las Vegas, Texas, Kansas and the All-Star Race — lead changes are down compared to the same events last year. There have been 63 lead changes in those five events this year compared to 94 in those same events a year ago and 99 two years ago.

The three lead changes in the All-Star race were the fewest since 2007, although Saturday’s race had the fewest laps (70) since that 2007 race, which was 80 laps.

Still, the hope was that there could be plenty of cars moving forward and backward with the use of a second tire compound, a softer compound. The goal was for the tire to be a few tenths quicker at the onset but wear more quickly than the regular tire.

“Goodyear delivered on exactly what we had asked,’’ O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We wanted three to four-tenths on a tire and by the practice times and the early part of the race we saw that. Kudos to Goodyear. I think what you saw Saturday night was really the difference probably in the car versus the tire and maybe a need to go even further if you were going to pursue that avenue in terms of difference in speed. That’s something we could look at for the future. Obviously you guys saw what I saw, it didn’t make a huge impact.’’

Asked if the option tire is something still on the table for future events, O’Donnell said: “I think so. I think you look at what may be the impact versus the car. I think the bigger thing is, when you look at tires in general, continuing to focus on rain tire, what should be our priority. There’s talk, I don’t want to tip the hand, but way down the future could you ever run Martinsville if the track was damp because Goodyear is able to, in terms of the speed, put something together.

“It’s a balance for us of where do we put their focus. Obviously they’re capable of doing all things. I think something we’d look at All-Star for sure, not sure in terms of a points race.’’

Another question was about the splitter after Erik Jones’ bid for the lead in the final laps of the Monster Energy Open was foiled when he ran below the apron and through grass on the frontstretch. He damaged his splitter in the incident.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was critical of the splitter on Twitter.

O’Donnell defended the splitter’s purpose on the car.

“Why we have it, I think everybody, including the drivers and the industry wanted to look at going toward the lower downforce package,’’ O’Donnell said. “That’s part of the package. It’s part of what we worked on with the (manufacturers). We’re actually very happy with the product we’ve had.

“If you look back to Kansas, one of the better mile-and-a-half races we’ve had. It’s always interesting with one incident and everybody jumps on, ‘Hey, why do we have this on the car?’ Certainly something down the road you can always look at, but it’s part of the overall aerodynamics of the car. It all fits in.

“For now, we continue to like the direction of lower downforce and going to continue down that and see if there are certain tweaks we can make. We absolutely would do that but that’s where we’re at today.’’

O’Donnell also said that the 2018 schedule is expected to be released this week.

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SiriusXM sponsoring Erik Jones for six races, beginning with All-Star weekend

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The upcoming All-Star Race weekend will mark the beginning of a six-race sponsorship deal with SiriusXM radio and Furniture Row Racing’s No. 77 Toyota, driven by Erik Jones.

Jones appeared on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint” Wednesday afternoon to make the announcement.

Source: SiriusXM

The satellite radio provider will be on Jones’ car in the Monster Energy Open as he attempts to race into his first Monster Energy All-Star Race.

SiriusXM will then be on the No. 77 at Pocono, Kentucky, Richmond, Dover and Martinsville.

The rookie is still finding his way in his first full season of Cup competition. Through 11 races Jones is 19th in the point standings. He has just one top 10 (Phoenix) and three DNFs.

“It’s definitely the first year where I’ve felt like a true rookie,” Jones said on “Tradin’ Pain.” Jones was the 2015 Camping World Truck Series champion and came in fourth in the Xfinity Series last season after earning four wins.

“In Truck and Xfinity we came right out of the box and were contending for wins and running up front,” Jones said. “In the Cup Series, it’s definitely taken more time. We’ve had fast cars and we’ve had moments where we were running up in the top 10 and top five. But I don’t feel we’ve truly contended for the win. I hope that day is coming soon.”

Jones is currently tied in the points with former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Daniel Suarez.

“Obviously one of your goals this year is to win Rookie of the Year,” Jones said on “Tradin’ Paint.” “We want to make the (playoffs), win Rookie of the Year and I think that’d be a good year for us. It’s something I pay attention to throughout the week and keep up on and make sure we’re still in contention. It’s been close all year. … It’s good to see a close rookie battle like that. It’s good for the fans and good for the sport. It’s a strong rookie class.”

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