Martin Truex Jr. reflects on ‘end of an era’ for Furniture Row Racing

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As NASCAR marked the end of the Cup season Thursday with the Awards banquet in Las Vegas, it also marked the official end for Furniture Row Racing, which Martin Truex Jr. affectionately called “a special team, a special time.”

Hours after crew chief Cole Pearn tweeted a photo of the team’s Denver, Colorado, shop on his last day there, Truex graced the banquet stage for the last time as driver of the team’s No. 78 Toyota.

A year after being recognized as the series champion, Truex gave his speech as the second-place finisher.

Afterward, Truex reflected on the “end of an era” for the team, which he joined in 2014 and won 17 races with.

“I’m really proud of the effort,” Truex told reporters. “You never know if the next chapter will be as successful as the last one. Just thankful for all the people around me and for (owner) Barney (Visser) and what he gave us, what he allowed us all to do. It was a special time. Hopefully, we can continue that success. But nothing’s guaranteed.”

Truex sad that he was “sad” he placed second to Joey Logano in the standings, but said it was important to get the chance to acknowledge all that Visser did for Truex and the team one last time on the banquet stage.

“I think it’s special, an important time to be able to get up there and say those things,” Truex said. “Just really pass on the word for the team and represent the team like that so all our fans can see it. I was glad he was here. He wasn’t here last year (due to recovering from surgery after a heart attack). I wish he was here last year, not this year to be honest. … It’s hard. You get two to three minutes to say a few things. I’ll never be able to tell him or express just how much he means to me, what he’s done and what the last five years mean to me and the things he’s done for my career. Sad times for all of us.

“I know Cole’s in a tough spot. He’s getting ready to move and he’s sad because today’s his last day at the shop. The cars are lined up and getting ready to be shipped off. End of an era for sure, but we had a hell of good run. Came close to being a storybook ending.”

A week from now, Pearn will be working full-time as crew chief on Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 19 Toyota, which Truex will drive.

Truex said he’s not concerned about the change in dynamics for him and Pearn as they transition to JGR after years spent out in Denver as part of a technical alliance with JGR.

“Especially with Cole leading the charge,” Truex said. “I know he can get the best out of everybody. That was really the key to our success. Him figuring out how to get most out of everyone, put the right people in the right places. It’s going to be hard to duplicate the cast of characters we had, there’s no question. If anyone can do it, it’s him.”

Truex said “there’s no reason for us to change” how they work and race in their new place of work.

“I think … the last couple of seasons we really played a lot of what they were doing and tried to stay on the same page as them,” Truex said of JGR. “As they were updating things and coming up with new ideas and new cars and all that stuff, we kind of stayed on the same page and took it our one little step further out there at Colorado. I think the mad scientist part of Cole is still there and he’ll still be a driving force in making those late changes. … It’s going to be new territory.”

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Best of NASCAR Awards banquet

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NASCAR’s annual Awards Banquet gave the sport an opportunity to not only crown a champion but also pay tribute to all the drivers, manufacturers and stakeholders that made the season successful.

“To the NASCAR fans, love me or hate me, I just love your passion,” 2018 NASCAR Cup champion Joey Logano said when he received the ultimate honor in stock car racing. “That is one of the biggest things for me, is passion. Whether you‚Äôre booing or cheering, it‚Äôs pretty good. We all do it for you guys.”

Here are some of the highlights:

Champion: Joey Logano

“(Wife Brittany Logano) is my rock,” Logano said. “I knew this was when I was going to have a hard time. Family means a lot to me, alright? We have so many long talks at night. I‚Äôm not always smiling. I know it looks like I smile a lot, and I do when I‚Äôm happy. She‚Äôs there at my lowest points, it really brings me back up. She‚Äôs an amazing mother to our child and what an amazing year, to be able to have Hudson now and now a championship.”

Logano was introduced by Make-a-Wish recipient Gavin Grubbs.

Champion Car Owner: Roger Penske

During his time on stage, Roger Penske acknowledged the other owners in the series who challenge him and Team Penske to be better, including the owner of the closing Furniture Row Racing.

“One last comment, very important to me and this is congratulations to Barney Visser ‚Ķ Martin Truex (Jr.), Cole Pearn, you’ve brought so much to this series over the last several years.”

Second-place Martin Truex Jr.

“Looking forward to the future, for sure – but definitely the end of an era with Furniture Row ‚Ķ thank you Barney (Visser) for all you’ve done for me and this sport.”

Truex’s Furniture Row Racing Era ended with one championship, 17 wins, 56 top fives and top 10s in more than half of Truex’s 191 starts with that organization.

Third-place Kevin Harvick

“Our road to the championship round certainly had some challenges along the way, but our team performed when it mattered the most and believed in each other,” Harvick said.

“I want to thank the fans – and especially all the No. 4 fans for all the support this year,” Harvick continued. “And all you haters: I still see you.”

Fourth-place: Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch took to the stage with the comment, “This sucks. Worst of the best,” before congratulating Logano on his championship. Busch noted several highlights of the season including tying his career-best number of victories and passing the 50-win mark.

Busch offered a shout-out to Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth who most likely ran their final Cup races during the 2018 season.

“I wanted to make mention of Matt again this year in case he’s really retiring this time,” Busch said. “I think we’ve all kind of seen this story before with another Roush guy, Mark Martin years ago. I don’t know. Maybe this time’s true. Time will tell.”

Most Popular Driver Award

Dale Earnhardt Jr. handed over the award that he won 15 consecutive times to Chase Elliott.

Bill Elliott won the award a record 16 times (1984-88, 1991-2000 and 2002). Dale Earnhardt Sr. won in 2001.

“So cool that it stayed between Earnhardt and Elliott for so long,” Elliott told Earnhardt as he accepted the award. “I am glad though that you quit a year before you broke Dad’s record.”

MORE: Chase Elliott wins NMPA most popular driver award

Other Notable Moments

Ryan Blaney joked that he had sent Jimmie Johnson a Christmas card in return for his gift at the Charlotte Roval. In that race, Johnson’s contact with Truex Jr. on the final lap opened the door for Blaney’s second career win.

NASCAR Banquet red carpet rundown of drivers and wives

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NASCAR drivers and their wives hit the red carpet Thursday night before the NASCAR Awards banquet.

Austin Dillon hosted the walk.

LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 29: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Champion Joey Logano and his wife Brittnay attend the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards Celebration at the Wynn Las Vegas on November 29, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 29: Austin Dillon and his wife Whitney attends the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards Celebration at the Wynn Las Vegas on November 29, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 29: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his wife Amy attends the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards Celebration at the Wynn Las Vegas on November 29, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

 

 

LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 29: Kevin Harvick and his wife DeLana attend the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards Celebration at the Wynn Las Vegas on November 29, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 29: Kyle Busch and his wife Samantha attend the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards Celebration at the Wynn Las Vegas on November 29, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 29: Martin Truex Jr. and his girlfriend Sherry Pollex attend the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards Celebration at the Wynn Las Vegas on November 29, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 29: Clint Bowyer and his wife Lorra attend the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards Celebration at the Wynn Las Vegas on November 29, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 29: Kyle Larson and his wife Katelyn attend the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards Celebration at the Wynn Las Vegas on November 29, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 29: Brad Keselowski and his wife Paige attend the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards Celebration at the Wynn Las Vegas on November 29, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 29: Denny Hamlin and his wife Jordan Fish attend the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards Celebration at the Wynn Las Vegas on November 29, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 29: Kurt Busch and his wife Ashley attend the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards Celebration at the Wynn Las Vegas on November 29, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 29: Aric Almirola and his wife Janice attend the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards Celebration at the Wynn Las Vegas on November 29, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 29: Alex Bowman and Emily Boat attend the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards Celebration at the Wynn Las Vegas on November 29, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

NBCSN to broadcast special NASCAR America, Cup Awards at 8 p.m. ET

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NBCSN will have complete coverage of tonight’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards from Las Vegas, as the sport salutes Joey Logano‘s championship.

A special edition NASCAR America will air at 8 p.m. ET. with red carpet coverage. Carolyn Manno hosts and is joined by Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman. Marty Snider will be on the red carpet for driver interviews. Reigning Daytona 500 champion Austin Dillon also will serve as a reporter on the red carpet.

The Awards show airs at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Rutledge Wood and Kelli Stavast host. Along with honoring Logano, the show will feature the announcement of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Most Popular Driver. With Dale Earnhardt Jr. an analyst for NBC Sports, his streak of 15 consecutive Most Popular Driver awards will end.

Jim France wins NMPA Myers Brothers Award

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Jim France, NASCAR’s interim CEO and Chairman, was awarded the National Motorsports Press Association’s Myers Brothers Award Wednesday in Las Vegas.

France, 74, is the fourth member of the France family to receive the award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to stock car racing.

The son of NASCAR founder William H.G. France, Jim France was vice chairman/executive vice president of NASCAR before Brian France took a leave of absence following his arrest for aggravated driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of a controlled substance in August. Jim France also is chairman of the board at International Speedway Corp.

Jim France founded Grand-Am Road Racing in 1999 and played a role in the merger of that series and the American Le Mans Series in 2012 into what is now known as the International Motor Sports Association.

The Myers Brothers Luncheon came the day before the Cup Series awards banquet (9 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Here is the complete list of award winners from the Myers Brothers Awards

·   NMPA Myers Brothers Award: Jim France

·   Buddy Shuman Award: Grant Lynch

·   NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award: Mobil 1

·   American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Kevin Harvick

·   Busch Pole Award: Kurt Busch

·   Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company Award: Joey Logano

·   MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award: Doug Yates

·   Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award: Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 team

·   Mobil 1 Driver of the Year Award: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

·   MOOG Go the Extra Mile Crew Chief of the Year Award: Adam Stevens, crew chief No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team

·  Sunoco Diamond Performance Award: Joey Logano

·  Champion Sponsor Award: Shell-Pennzoil

·   Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award: William Byron

·  Champion Crew Chief Award: Todd Gordon