group vice president, technical director
for TRD. “But in all the meetings we had
in Daytona, and then to go win the ‘500’
and have all five of our guys work
together the way they did, I think
immediately when we left Daytona
everyone just said, ‘OK, this is pretty
powerful. We need to keep it going.’”
Keep it going they have, and then some.
By the midway point of the 26-race NASCAR
Sprint Cup Series regular season, all five
“factory” Toyota drivers had won races, with
JGR winning seven of the first 12 races and
Truex setting a NASCAR record for most
miles led in a single race, when he sat at the
front for 588 miles in May’s Coca-Cola 600
at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
As far as Sprint Cup teams go, Furniture
Row’s story is pretty much unlike any
other. It’s the only Denver-based team in a
sport where most every other squad is
located in the Charlotte, N.C., area. It’s a
single-car David in an era of multi-car
Goliaths. And for most of its history, it’s
been self-funded by entrepreneur Barney
Visser, a thoughtful and shy Vietnam
veteran who launched the team in 2005.
Last year, when Furniture Row raced
Chevrolets, Truex and the team made it to
the final round of the Chase for the Sprint
Cup at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It was
the culmination of a successful partnership
with Richard Childress Racing.
The big difference this year? JGR is the
lead dog with its manufacturer, something
RCR hadn’t been with Chevrolet since the
halcyon days of Dale Earnhardt. Now,
Furniture Row shares No. 1 billing with the
No. 1 Toyota team. Last year, it simply
was one of several teams that had a
partnership with a mid-pack Chevy team.
According to the team owner, the
difference is readily apparent.
“We would not be where we are at all
right now without Toyota and Joe Gibbs
Racing,” says Visser, a man of few words.
“We think we add something to all of that.”
Indeed, they do. And that circles back to
the trust issue. The five Toyota crew chiefs
and TRD management share a private
chat room where they can communicate
24/7, including during the race, when
they’ll trade info about air pressure
changes and pit stop adjustments.
At Dover earlier this year, Carl Edwards
was struggling in practice. So his crew
chief, Dave Rogers, sent one of his
engineers to get Pearn’s setup notes for
Truex’s car, which was running much faster.
Then, during the race, Edwards was
running well and Rogers could have put
Truex a lap down at one point, but he didn’t.
“At the end of the race, when I’m in a
position where I can really stick it to him —
I can short pit him — I have to ask myself,
‘Where did I get my information? Where
did I get this setup sheet from?’” says
Rogers. “If I stick it to him (Pearn) right
now and tell him I’m going to pit on Lap
300 and I pit on Lap 280, that’s going to
build some walls between the programs.
And next time, I won’t get that setup
sheet. We all understand that, and that’s
Barney Visser had
a brief career as a
but found rather
more success with
success has largely
funded the growth
of Furniture Row
Racing, which he
started in 2005.
HIGH REWARDS Martin Truex Jr.’s victory at Charlotte
was Furniture Row’s third ever - but the
first that team owner Barney Visser was
actually at the track to witness in person.
THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM