Saturday, February 17, 2018

2018 team preview: Furniture Row Racing

Furniture Row Racing
Manufacturer: Toyota
Engine: Toyota Racing Development
Drivers Martin Truex Jr., No. 78
Crew chief: Cole Pearn
2017 standings: 1st
What’s new: As conventional wisdom would hold, no major changes for the No. 78 group that claimed its first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship last season. The biggest shift inside the Denver, Colorado shop is the restructuring to a single-car effort after the No. 77 team ceased operations after the season. Furniture Row’s close technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing continues, so the No. 78 won’t completely go it alone this year.
What to watch: Martin Truex Jr. insists there’s no pressure returning as the defending premier-series champ, but it will be compelling to see if Truex, Pearn and Co. can replicate the sensational eight-win campaign of 2017. Topping his own results will be one facet; seeing if the rest of the field can catch up will be the other.
Key question(s): The No. 78 team’s sharp focus on making the most of stage racing’s benefits was a key component of Truex’s title run. With one season of the format under everyone’s belt, will Furniture Row’s competitors learn from the lessons of 2017 and make a dent in their playoff-point surplus?
Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/Five-Hour Energy Toyota: Truex and Furniture Row have fought through adversity in recent years away from the track, but in terms of pure on-track performance, the upward trend has been palpable.

And now with a major career goal crossed off, it’s a far looser Truex who enters 2018 as the standard-bearer. “For me, I feel really good about where we’re at,” Truex says. “I feel really confident. But I’m really relaxed, as well. It’s like, you know, the ultimate goal in racing is to win that first championship in the Cup Series. That’s as high as you can get in stock car racing. To know we’ve done that, it’s just like, ‘Aah.’ No pressure now, let’s just go win more races, see where it all shakes out.”

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