Truex earns extension with Furniture Row, jumps to Toyota
LOUDON, N.H. (AP) Martin Truex Jr. is sticking with Furniture Row Racing for 2016 - only he'll make a hopeful championship push in a Toyota.
Truex, in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, and FRR reached a new deal for next season and hope to soon work on a long-term contract. He'll drive next season in the No. 78 Toyota Camry after driving a Chevrolet the last two seasons.
Toyota's major partnership is with Joe Gibbs Racing, which has all four drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Toyota was in the market for another team with the collapse of Michael Waltrip Racing.
FRR had shared a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing. It will now pair up with JGR and Truex will join a stout lineup of drivers that include Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth.
Truex has found a home at Furniture Row, a one-car operation based in Denver, Colorado, far removed from NASCAR's North Carolina hub. The 35-year-old Truex has one win this season with crew chief Cole Pearn and he made the Chase.
''I feel like the team that I have right now is the best I've ever been with,'' Truex said Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. ''We're looking forward to doing that for another year and we'll see where that takes us.''
FRR hoped to expand to two cars in 2017 if it can secure the needed sponsorship.
''For them to have the courage to make this change is something,'' said David Wilson, president and general manager of TRD. ''This is now the second time they've made the Chase and it puts a lot of pressure on all of us to perform. It's somewhat of a leap of faith they're taking, because you could argue, `Why make a change?' as well as they're running. But it's the belief we collectively share in how we can even be better yet.''
Truex, in his second season with FRR, drove a Toyota for MWR from 2010 to 2013. Furniture Row made its NASCAR debut in 2005 and has qualified for the Chase in two of the last season seasons. It was the first single-car team to earn a Chase berth.
''We've just begun a growth spurt that will take us to a new level,'' Truex said.
Even with success in a Chevy, FRR general manager Joe Garone said the opportunity to align with JGR and Toyota was too good to pass up. Toyota will provide engines to FRR.
''We're trying to find a platform to continue our growth and Toyota gives us that growth, platform,'' he said. ''It puts us perfectly where we want to head. Being a single-car team that wants to expand, it's going to help give us some tools.''
Garone said Chevrolet did not make a push to keep FRR.
''We thank Furniture Row Racing for all of the team's hard work and accomplishments over the past decade, and we wish (owner) Barney Visser and his organization continued success with their future endeavors,'' said Jim Campbell, Chevy's vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports.
Toyota joined Sprint Cup in 2007 and partnered a year later with JGR. It's the clear favorite to win the championship.
''The way things have worked out for the Toyota cars right now is perfect timing, especially coming into the Chase,'' Garone said.
Joe Gibbs said the organizations are ''still working through all the ways we have to work together.''
''I think what they bring is another crew chief that can help solve problems,'' Gibbs said.