What a difference a year makes.
Heading into the 2015 season, Martin Truex Jr. was coming off his worst year at the Sprint Cup level. Truex compiled just five top 10s and one top five while finishing 24th in the points standings — all career lows during his 10 years as a full-time driver.
Furniture Row Racing, struggling to find sponsors, was in dire need of a rebound after losing Kurt Busch following the 2013 season. Truex seemed like a solid fit, but would need results in 2015 to help the team trend upward.
So how did Truex respond? With the best season of his career.
Truex not only won the second race in the history of FRR, but also had 22 top 10s, eight top fives and finished fourth in the standings — all career highs. The 35-year-old driver not only turned his course around, but also changed the fortunes for Furniture Row Racing.
Oh, and moving over to Toyota to partner with Joe Gibbs Racing doesn’t hurt matters. Especially given the fact that JGR is coming off a championship and clearly has the best equipment at nearly every track imaginable.
Now Furniture Row isn’t the only sponsor for the No. 78 machine on weekends. Bass Pro Shops signed on for multiple races, starting with Sunday’s Daytona 500. On Wednesday, FRR announced Auto-Owners Insurance will sponsor the car for Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 24), Darlington Raceway (Sept. 4) and Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 30).
“We’ve had a lot of big news this offseason,” Truex said. “It’s really been a change of things for Furniture Row Racing. Bringing in sponsorship and partners on the racecar for the first time in 10 years, I guess. Everybody is real proud at Furniture Row Racing to do that. Bringing new people into the sport is always exciting for us.”
Part of the new sponsorship deals comes from the team’s success, but another huge component is charters system. With Furniture Row receiving a charter before the start of the year, the No. 78 team can sell to sponsors that they won’t miss a race throughout the life of the charter.
Not that Furniture Row was missing races in seasons past, but with unforeseen issues sometimes arising this team will never miss a race. As a result, sponsors come flocking to successful teams with a good story as long as there is assurance they will see the car on the track.
“When you have one of the nation’s leading companies join your team as a partner it’s not only a great day but also a great opportunity for Furniture Row Racing,” team president Joe Garone said. “As is the case with all of our partners, Auto-Owners Insurance is a winning company and we look forward to returning the confidence they placed in us with strong performances on the race track.”
For a team starting just its seventh full-time season at the Sprint Cup level, Furniture Row still has a lot of room to move up. With a driver still in his prime locked in for the long term, look for Furniture Row to keep expanding with a strong partnership, a charter and a championship-caliber team.