Furniture Row Racing owner: Not competing in 2019 ‘not an option’

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Barney Visser, owner of the defending Cup champion Furniture Row Racing, issued a statement Wednesday declaring the team has “every intention” to compete beyond 2018.

“Furniture Row Racing continues to develop sponsorship opportunities for 2019 and beyond. We have aligned ourselves with great partners over the years and are very proud of the success our organization has achieved, especially the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series championship with Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing not fielding a team in 2019 is not an option and we have every intention of continuing to build on our success for years to come.”

Visser’s statement – first reported by Sports Business Journal – comes less than a month after sponsor 5-Hour Energy announced it would leave the sport after the 2018 season.

5-Hour Energy serves as a co-primary sponsor on Truex’s No. 78 Toyota this season with Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats in 30 races.

Visser’s own Furniture Row was the team’s sole primary sponsor from its inception in 2005 until Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats and Auto-Owners Insurance joined in 2016. Auto-Owners Insurance sponsored Truex in six races in 2017 and has been a sponsor in three races so far this season.

The loss of 5-Hour Energy came with the defending series champion’s contract set to expire at the end of this season. Through 22 races, Truex has four wins and 15 top fives and top 10s. He is third in the point standings behind Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.

After he finished second in Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen, Truex said “No” when asked if there was an update to contract situation.

On July 20 at New Hampshire, Truex lamented the timing of the announcement of 5-Hour Energy’s departure.

“Obviously, it’s not great timing with all that is going on,” Truex said. “I’ve got confidence in my team and what we’re doing and hopefully we can find a replacement for that. I don’t see Barney putting Furniture Row back on the car and doing that. I don’t know if he can make that work anymore. We’ll see where it goes from here.”

Asked about working on a contract extension even with 5-hour Energy’s departure, Truex said: “I think we can. Certainly makes things more difficult. We’ve been talking about it and honestly it’s not like we were waiting on this to happen.

“We’re just trying to figure everything out, what’s the best direction to go and get all the details. Honestly, we haven’t worked that hard on it. It’s not a pressing issue for me. I know what the team wants and where we’re all at. It’s not like I’m nervous they’re going to sign somebody else, or I’m going to be searching for a ride. It’s more just trying to focus on racing and feel like it will get done when it gets done.”