Kenny Wallace

Furniture Row Racing to cease operations after 2018 season

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Furniture Row Racing, the reigning Cup championship team, announced Tuesday it will cease operations after this season, citing a lack of necessary funding.

“I’ve always felt that we could be a competitive team and run for a championship even when it seemed like a pipe dream to many racing insiders,” car owner Barney Visser said in a statement. “But to be successful in any business you need to assemble the right people and make a strong commitment to succeed. We achieved what we set out to do and feel like we climbed Mount Everest. To continue with anything less than a competitive team would not be acceptable. It’s been one incredible ride.”

The announcement comes less than a month after car Visser issued a statement that “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.”

The move also comes after primary sponsor 5-hour Energy announced in July that it would no longer remain in NASCAR after this season. 5-hour Energy is serving as co-primary sponsor of the team with Bass Pro Shops for 30 races this year. Furniture Row Racing was unable to find any income to replace what it would be losing.

“This is not good for anybody,” Visser said in a statement about closing the team down after this season. “The numbers just don’t add up. I would have to borrow money to continue as a competitive team and I’m not going to do that. This was obviously a painful decision to arrive at knowing how it will affect a number of quality and talented people.

“We’ve been aggressively seeking sponsorship to replace 5-hour ENERGY and to offset the rising costs of continuing a team alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing but haven’t had any success. I feel that it’s only proper to make the decision at this time to allow all team members to start seeking employment for next year. I strongly believe that all of our people have enhanced their careers by working at Furniture Row Racing.”

This announcement comes as Martin Truex Jr. is third in the points after winning his first series title last season.

Truex, who joined Furniture Row Racing in 2014 as the driver of the No. 78 car, said: “While I am saddened by today’s announcement, I totally understand the decision. Barney Visser, Joe Garone and the entire Furniture Row Racing team took me in while my career was in a bad place, and together we reached the pinnacle of the sport. I will forever be grateful to each and every one of them, and also to Furniture Row, Denver Mattress and the Visser family.

“But make no mistake this is not the immediate end. We still have unfinished business to attend to and that’s to give everything we have to successfully defend our Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. Right now that is foremost on my mind as it is with the entire team.”

With Furniture Row Racing leaving after this season, it will have a charter to sell. That will be among the more valuable charters. Cup charters guarantee a starting spot in each race but also a set amount of money per race. One portion of the team payments is based on performance in the past three years. Furniture Row Racing has made the playoffs each of the past two years and will again make the playoff this season.

Furniture Row Racing, based in Denver, Colorado, started its NASCAR program in 2005 as an Xfinity team before moving to Cup. The team made its Cup debut in Nov. 13, 2005 at Phoenix with Jerry Robertson. He started 43rd and finished 41st, completing 51 laps.

The team’s first Cup victory was by Regan Smith in the 2011 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. The team has since scored 17 more wins with Truex, including victories this season at Auto Club Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Sonoma Raceway and Kentucky Speedway. Furniture Row Racing has won 12 of the last 59 Cup races (16.9 percent).

Others who drove for Furniture Row Racing included Erik Jones, Kurt Busch, Kenny Wallace, Joe Nemechek and Jimmy Spencer.

“There are so many people I want to thank because without them winning a championship and being competitive would never have happened: Joe Gibbs Racing for our technical alliance, Toyota and TRD (Toyota Racing Development), Bass Pro Shops, 5-hour ENERGY, Auto-Owners Insurance, Furniture Row and Denver Mattress,” Visser said in a statement from the team.

“A heartfelt thank you to Joe Garone, Martin Truex Jr, Cole Pearn and all of our team members for their talent, dedication and sacrifices they made along the way. To the Furniture Row and Denver Mattress employees I want to express a special thank you for always having my back from the early years of our race team to our championship run.

“I also want to thank the fans, the Denver community, NASCAR, International Speedway Corporation (ISC), Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) and independent track owners for providing and maintaining the venues that we compete at. A special tip of the hat to the media and to NASCAR’s broadcast partners – FOX, NBC, Motor Racing Network (MRN), Performance Racing Network (PRN) and SiriusXM Radio. We’ve always been treated fairly by members of the media and I appreciate their hard work in one of the most demanding schedules in major league sports.”

NASCAR issued a statement Tuesday: “NASCAR wishes the very best to Barney Visser and his family. Barney has been a successful owner and an amazing champion, and his presence will certainly be missed. We look forward to seeing Martin Truex Jr., Cole Pearn and the entire No. 78 team finish the 2018 season strong and competing for another championship. NASCAR will continue to work on growing the sport and working with the race teams on competitive and operational excellence. Much of those efforts have already been put in place, and will continue to be a focus.”

Car owner Joe Gibbs, whose team is aligned with Furniture Row Racing, said in a statement: “We have a great partnership with Barney and everyone at Furniture Row Racing. It’s unfortunate that they will not be continuing after this season and I know it was a difficult decision for them. They have accomplished so much and I know they would like nothing more than to win another championship this season.”

In a statement, Laura Pierce, General Manager for Motorsports, Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) said: “We want to thank Barney Visser, Joe Garone, Martin, Cole and everyone at Furniture Row Racing for a successful partnership over the past few years. The team’s dedication and hard work in the sport was instrumental to our racing family as they helped us win our first NASCAR Cup Series manufacturer’s championships as well as reach the pinnacle of the sport with last year’s championship. We look forward to continuing to work with the Furniture Row Racing team as they defend their championship in the upcoming playoffs.”

Team owner Brad Daugherty joins SiriusXM NASCAR Radio lineup

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Brad Daugherty, co-owner of JTG Daugherty, will co-host “The Late Shift” on Monday nights, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio announced Friday. Daugherty will begin Feb. 19, the day after the Daytona 500.

Daugherty will join co-host Brad Gillie.

Larry McReynolds will co-host the show on Tuesday nights. Former co-host Kenny Wallace will remain as a part-time host.

During an appearance Friday morning on “The Morning Drive,” Daugherty discussed his new opportunity and more, including a spending cap and escalating costs in the sport.

On costs and a spending cap in the sport, Daugherty said:

“The biggest challenge for me would be if that happened, the first thing that would have to happen would be a collective bargaining process, which could happen, but then there would have to be a tremendous revenue sharing in all the resources that are available to NASCAR and to the sport because then you’re cutting out equal chunks of the pie like baseball, like basketball and like football,” he said. “Now these race teams, which we have our charters, they could become true commodities. I don’t think you can do it in racing simply because the are so many moving pieces and parts. The other sports are pretty much straight forward and simple.

“When you have so many vendors that participate on a weekly basis in this sport like they do now, it makes it almost impossible to control those costs unless you have just one supplier for everything throughout the sport and then that doesn’t make sense because then you don’t know if you’re getting the best equipment available throughout the sport.

“When you are talking about mechanical things, pieces and parts and vendors, it’s almost impossible to put that all under thumb and to create some kind of cap. It would be unfair. I think if you have your revenue stream and you’re able to take your revenue stream to produce opportunities for your company, based upon the rulebook and based upon the rules that are legislated through the sport, I think that’s as fair as it gets. Now, one guy can outspend another. I just think that is the way it is. It has always been that way. I really don’t have a problem with that.

“The spending, though, we need to find better ways to control costs … just the weekly stuff. Goodyear does a great job with trying to control costs for us. Our brake packages and stuff like that are creeping up on price. Probably 12 years ago, a brake package at Daytona probably costs us about $4,500. Last year, we ran the same speed 12-13 years ago, that brake package was $45,000. Those types of costs within the sport need to be monitored a little bit better, I do believe that will help us.

“Even with that, the guy who can put his dollars in the right position and run his race team, these businesses are not like any other businesses on the face of the planet. They’re not like other sports business, the compression chart when you look at how these things are put together with executives and individuals and aeronautical engineers and crew people. It’s not the same. It’s just a unique sport that I don’t think you can actually get a tremendous grasp on fiscally just because of all the moving pieces and parts available. I like having all the pieces and parts available to my race team. It’s up to me or (co-owner) Tad (Geschickter) or Jodi (Geschickter) to go out and find the money to implement them.”

Matt Kenseth on driving No. 88 car: ‘I don’t feel like that’s going to be an opportunity’

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Matt Kenseth, who does not have a ride for 2018, said he doesn’t believe he’ll take over the No. 88 car Dale Earnhardt Jr. vacates after this season.

Rookie Erik Jones will take over Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 ride after this year. With Earnhardt making this his final full-time Cup season, it’s led some to wonder if Kenseth would move over to Hendrick Motorsports and drive that car. Car owner Rick Hendrick was coy about his plans for the No. 88 car last weekend at New Hampshire.

Kenseth, the 2003 Cup champion, was asked Monday night on “The Late Shift” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio if he’ll drive the No. 88 car next year:

“I just don’t know,” Kenseth told co-hosts Kenny Wallace and Brad Gillie. “I don’t feel like that’s going to be an opportunity I’m going to have. I really I don’t know. I really honestly don’t have anything lined up for sure. I will say that I’m not really that worried about it. I’m not really losing sleep over it. I’m not that concerned about next season.

“I’m glad that we got it all out, got it out in the open so that everybody knows what everybody is doing and we can just kind of get it behind us and go racing. It’s only July and there is a ton of racing left to do. Got a lot of things we still want to accomplish with the 20. It’s been a great four-and-a-half years, and I certainly want the last four or five months to be great as well.

“Really nothing to feel bad about. Just go work hard and race hard and try to win some races. I feel like that I’m in one of the best cars in the garage. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. I’ve got a great opportunity in front of me here these next few months to go out and win some races and hopefully go race for another championship.

“Everything is there that we need. It’s all there in right in front of us. Not every driver can say that they got the opportunity to be in those cars. I think to get distracted and think about and talk about and worry about next year, it would really be taking away from what we’re trying to do right now.”

Kenseth is coming off a fourth-place finish last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He holds the final playoff spot with seven races left until the playoffs begin. Kenseth, who has 38 career Cup victories, has gone 36 races without a win.

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Sherry Pollex celebrates Martin Truex Jr.’s win in hospital after surgery for ovarian cancer recurrence

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There was a noticeable face absent from the celebration following Martin Truex Jr.‘s win Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.

Instead of meeting him in victory lane, Truex’s longtime girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, was celebrating from a hospital bed.

While she was celebrating Truex’s 10th career Cup win, she was also celebrating having undergone successful surgery to deal with a recurrence of the ovarian cancer she was originally diagnosed with in 2014.

Pollex, 38, had been cancer free for well over a year. She had her last round of precautionary chemotherapy in January 2016 after 17 months of treatment for Stage III ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is a growth of abnormal malignant cells that begins in the ovaries.

“We found out a while ago about (the recurrence),” Truex said Saturday night.  “She went in this weekend to have some surgery done. Everything went perfectly good, went as planned. I’m going to bring her home tomorrow. Excited to get home and see her, and everything is going great.”

Truex called Pollex from victory lane.

“As soon as I got out of the car, I had one of my guys call her,” Truex said. “She was pretty excited.”

Pollex was busy on Twitter following the race, sharing a photo of her celebrating from her hospital bed and letting fans know she was OK. In response to a tweet from Kenny Wallace, Pollex said the procedure “wasn’t small.”

Sunday evening Pollex tweeted a Vine of Truex pushing her in a wheel chair as they prepared to leave the hospital to head home.

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Xfinity Series Spotlight: Q&A with Darrell Wallace Jr.

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Before competing at the most famous track in NASCAR last month, Darrell Wallace Jr. got to watch the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history in person.

With close friend Ryan Blaney, the Roush Fenway Racing driver watched the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime from Section 600 in NRG Stadium.

“We were actually sitting at dinner when we got the tickets,” Wallace told NBC Sports. “We were like, ‘Oh man, that’s up in the nosebleed section.’ We walk into the stadium to go find the seats. Man, there’s wasn’t a bad seat in the place. Any seat from the very top row to obviously the first row was a great seat. You can see everything. Some of these places you go to you sit up high and they look like ants on the field. This one it felt like we were right there against it. It was a lot of fun.”

Three weeks later, the 23-year-old driver began his third full-time season in the Xfinity Series driving the No. 6 for Roush.

The following interview, conducted before the Daytona race weekend, has been edited and condensed.

NBC Sports: What’s your worse case of getting sick at the track?

Wallace: I was sick at Kansas two years ago and that was pretty bad. The flights (to Daytona) are what get me. I have the worst ear infections and it’ll be clogged up for two weeks and can’t really hear much. You lay your head over to the side, you can hear the ocean. Then you turn it back up and you hear it clog back up. It’s a nightmare. When I get sick, I get sick.

NBC Sports: What was your first car?

Wallace: First car was a Toyota 4-Runner … It was magnetic gray.

NBC Sports: Have you ever named a car?

Wallace: Yeah, my Bug that I just recently sold. It was Don Vito (AKA Vincent Margera from MTV’s “Viva La Bam”).

NBC Sports: If you were in the Cup Series night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, what would be your introduction song?

Wallace: I’m going to go to my playlist right quick and just do a random. Let’s see what we got. It might get loud, I’m just going to do shuffle and the first song that plays is what we’re going with. Ha! “Filth Friends Unite” (by I See Stars) which is actually a pretty good one.

NBC Sports: When did you start learning to play the drums or any other instruments you play?

Wallace: Mom said I were beating on pots and pans ever since I was 2. I was in the seventh and eighth grade band in middle school. I played the big ol bass drum. So I was in percussion. I got a drum set when I was 11. An electric drum set, so I was messing around on that every now and then. I lost touch with it. Then I moved into my new house and bought another electric kit. Shortly after that I bought an acoustic kit.

NBC Sports: What’s your favorite part about percussion and drums?

Wallace: How intricate things get. Like the double pedal stuff is a work of art. You really got to have some skill to be able to have good rhythm with your feet. That’s something I’ve been working on for the last year or so I’ve been here is just my footwork on the drums. It’s actually a lot of fun to be able to learn new things and new songs that are harder than before. If you go back to watch my first video to now it’s a lot different.

NBC Sports: Do you have a particular drummer you’re fond of?

Wallace: I’ve become friends with so many going to all these concerts. I was actually just texting with one of them earlier in the day about random stuff. He actually just announced that he had a kid, but Matt Traynor from Blessthefall, we’ve got Jerod Boyd from Miss May I. There’s tons of them.

NBC Sports: What’s you favorite Twitter account to follow?

Wallace: Whoever is drunk first, (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. or Kenny Wallace.

NBC Sports: What’s the strongest emotional response you had to a sporting event that wasn’t auto racing?

Wallace: College football, Tennessee football. … The Georgia game this year. We were up with like 40 seconds to go … (Georgia) went up by four and we needed a touchdown. We had four seconds to go and threw a hail mary and we caught it. That was when I was standing in Chase Elliott‘s bus at Dover, who is Georgia fan.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8U5KsvT_XAc

NBC Sports: What’s on your bucket list that’s not related to racing?

Wallace: I’m getting to do the Thunderbirds this week coming up down in Daytona, so I get to check that off the bucket list. So, I guess I’d say that.

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