CHARLOTTE – There has been much speculation about how a Denver-based team quickly morphed from underdog to champion in NASCAR’s premier series.
Martin Truex Jr. has a simple explanation for what caused Furniture Row Racing to jell so quickly since joining a team that finished 24th in the 2014 points standings.
“A bunch of misfits got together,” the 2017 series champion said with a laugh during the latest NASCAR on NBC podcast. “Nobody else wanted us all, so we just ended up together. I don’t know that you can formulate the plan or hand-pick all the people you wanted to have the chemistry we have.
“We’re all so different. Our personalities are very different. Our hobbies are very different. Our political views are very different. But yet we go to the racetrack, and we all think as one. It’s just the most incredible thing I’ve ever been part of, and I don’t know that you can just see that coming. That’s just one of those things that you throw in a pot and stir it up and (say), ‘There it is. Let’s see what it tastes like.’ ”
The yin and yang of the team is perhaps best exemplified by the relationship of crew chief Cole Pearn and engineer Jeff Curtis.
“They are complete opposites,” Truex said. “When it comes to the race cars, they’re on top of things. They’re thinking ahead of each other. It’s crazy the way they work together.”
During an appearance on the podcast last year, Pearn explained that a running joke at Furniture Row Racing is asking “Who’s in charge of that?” because the team eschews the hierarchy employed by many large teams. Truex said the emphasis on more autonomy breeds goodwill among team members.
“It’s fun for me because it just has that small-team feel, kind of old-school feel,” Truex said. “We have a lot of fun. It’s not so serious all the time. It’s hard to believe because we’ve had so much success but also because of that, our guys have more fun, they don’t feel as much pressure.
“We’ve all been in situations that we hated before that we didn’t like and weren’t successful in, and we understand parts of the reason we weren’t successful is we weren’t happy. At the same time, our guys have no problem being held accountable if they screw up. You can yell at them all day long, and we go out to dinner and everyone is best friends again. I think it’s all part of like being the runt of the litter. Whether we got fired or lost our job or ride or whatever it may be.”
Truex said that includes Pearn, who is in his second go-around with the team.
“Cole got fired at Furniture Row the first time he was there” in 2011, Truex said. “So it’s almost like this is all everyone’s homecoming. A last hurrah, ‘we’re going to show them’ kind of deal.”
On the podcast, Truex also discusses:
–His Philadelphia Eagles fandom and first trip to the Super Bowl this weekend (he’ll be making some appearances with NBC Sports);
–The career crossroads at which he signed a contract extension with Furniture Row for below market value because “Do I want to be successful or do I want to make good money?”;
–The 2018 outlook for Furniture Row, which is returning to a single car.