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Martin Truex Jr. on why his merry ‘bunch of misfits’ were title worthy

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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.

Click on the embed above to hear the podcast or listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify or wherever you download podcasts.

Scan All: “It’s crazy what you guys’ll do for a million bucks”

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“It’s crazy what you guys’ll do for a million bucks,” crew chief Todd Gordon told his driver after Joey Logano narrowly missed a multicar accident In the All-Star Race.

“You just wait. You’ll see a lot more of that,” Logano replied.

Here are some other highlights:

  • “Beside the 4, I think we’ve got the best car; it’s driving pretty good.” – Kyle Busch
  • “We’re tore up. Lost the hood.” – Brad Keselowski
  • “I just want to thank my teammate Clint Bowyer for putting us in that position.” – Kurt Busch
  • “He’s the last one to do that because he mirror drives everybody.” – Kyle Larson, after contact from Logano sent him spinning.
  • “That 22’s probably going to be our next caution. I think he’s gonna cut a tire, personally.” – Chase Elliott
  • “A million dollars baby. Hell yeah!” – Kevin Harvick

For more, watch the above video.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: All-Star Scan All, look ahead to Coca-Cola 600

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Carolyn Manno hosts from our Stamford, Connecticut studio and is joined by driver Landon Cassill. Jeff Burton joins from Burton’s Garage.

  • This weekend, NASCAR’s best will be put to the longest test of the season in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 600-mile distance isn’t the only thing that’s unique about this challenging event. Landon and Jeff will explain what drivers have to look out for, both on and off the track!

 

  • The Charlotte region is also home base for Team Penske and its 2017 IndyCar Series champion, Josef Newgarden. As he heads into this weekend’s Indianapolis 500, Newgarden joins the show LIVE to discuss the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, his relationship with his Penske teammates, and what it’s like working for “The Captain.”

 

  • And it’s our favorite feature of the week – Scan All! Crank up those scanners and listen in on drivers, crew chiefs and spotters as they battle for a million bucks in last Saturday’s All-Star Race.

 

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Matt Kenseth discusses early progress for Roush cars on Dale Jr. Download

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Matt Kenseth shares parenting tips for Dale Earnhardt Jr., discusses their early days racing together and talks about his return to the car for Roush Fenway Racing in this week’s Dale Jr. Download.

Kenseth returned to the Cup Series earlier this month, driving the No. 6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing at Kansas. He finished 36th after he was eliminated by a crash. He won the pole for last weekend’s All-Star Race and finished 14th in the 21-car field.

Kenseth will be back in the car for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 and the next two races (Pocono and Michigan) before Trevor Bayne drives the No. 6 at Sonoma.

Kenseth and Bayne will split time in the car the rest of the season.

Kenseth, without a ride after Joe Gibbs Racing did not renew his contract last year, was brought to Roush Fenway Racing to help that organization improve its cars.

“It’s been really different for me because it’s a different role than I’ve ever felt like I’ve had through my racing career,’’ Kenseth said on the podcast.

After two races, Kenseth is learning what needs to be done to help the team. 

“I kind of now know where I feel like that they’re at and how much we need to do to get back to an extremely competitive environment,’’ Kenseth said, “so it’s just a lot different role and different feeling than I’ve ever had before, it’s more of a project.’’

In terms of that project, where do things stand after two races?

“Obviously, there’s a lot of room for improvement,’’ Kenseth said. “I think, the potential is there but certainly it’s going to take some work and probably a little more patience and a little more time than maybe I originally thought.’’

Listen to the show here and all that Kenseth had to say.

Cup team’s debut stirs debate on value of smaller part-time teams

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The entry of NY Racing for this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 has stirred talk about the value of smaller teams unable to compete a full season in Cup after a comment from the chairman of the Race Team Alliance.

NY Racing is entered in its first Cup race of the year. JJ Yeley is the driver. The team announced Tuesday a multi-year deal with Steakhouse Elite as sponsor. The team is owned by John Cohen, whose previous Cup teams ran 16 races between 2012-15. His team’s best finish was 32nd in the 2015 Daytona 500 with Reed Sorenson. His teams also failed to qualify for seven races and withdrew five times.

The entry of NY Racing means one car will fail to qualify for the Coca-Cola 600. The five teams going for the four spots available for non-charter teams are those of BJ McLeod (No. 52, Rick Ware Racing), Sorenson (No. 55 Premium Motorsports), Timmy Hill (No. 66, Motorsports Business Management), Parker Kligerman (No. 96 Gaunt Brothers Racing) and Yeley.

NY Racing’s entry drew the ire of Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing and chairman of the Race Team Alliance. Kauffman tweeted about NY Racing’s entry and then responded to a few who questioned him.

Kauffman’s tweet drew a response from Xfinity driver Tommy Joe Martins, who has been vocal about the importance of smaller teams in NASCAR’s national series and the need to raise the profiles of such teams. Martins responded to Kauffman’s comments with a series of tweets.

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