Furniture Row Racing’s ultimate demise lies in the hands of Joe Gibbs Racing.
It’s a story of ruthless cutthroat capitalism. Out price the competition until they can’t sustain that business model anymore and go out of business. Joe Gibbs Racing did just that to Furniture Row Racing.
Furniture Row Racing cited “the rising costs of continuing a team alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing.” Joe Gibbs Racing reportedly DOUBLED the cost of the alliance FRR had with the team.
Financials in NASCAR are impossible to come by unless someone forgets to pay their bills and goes to court so we don’t know what FRR was paying. However, doubling the cost of anything will almost always have ramifications.
Back Story 2016-2018
Furniture Row Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing entered an alliance starting in 2016. The #78 car was viewed as a 5th JGR entry. FRR used cars built by JGR and over the wall guys provided by JGR. In return, FRR paid handsomely for this alliance and increase in on-track performance.
Combine the performance of JGR Toyota’s with Cole Pearn’s mastermind brain and you have a championship winning team, literally. The combo of journeyman Martin Truex Jr. and Pearn resulted in 17 wins over the last three seasons and a NASCAR Cup Series Championship. Beating JGR’s Kyle Busch for the title last season.
As FRR continued to outrun JGR the relationship seemed to strain. Last summer at the Brickyard 400 the tension rose to an all-time high as the #78 and #18 tangled on a restart and both cars slammed the wall (the 45 person crowd erupted, it was magical). Instead of having an easy 1-2 finish the teams were left exchanging words in the #78 pit box. Adam Stevens was still in the wrong there and JGR dropped the ball. That was the first visible sign of strain in the relationship.
Around late spring of this season, rumblings started in the garage area that FRR had not re-signed Truex for 2019. Not only that but the team also didn’t have a new deal in place with JGR or TRD. That was the beginning of the end combined with 5-Hour Energy leaving the team after the 2018 season and taking half a season of funding with them.
If You Can’t Beat Them, Put Them Out of Business
Joe Gibbs Racing ultimately wanted Furniture Row Racing to go away. Being embarrassed in 2017 by the satellite team wasn’t in the cards when this alliance was born. So doubling the cost of their alliance deal was the easiest way to dispose of FRR.
Furniture Row Racing could have formed an alliance with another team. Barney Visser ultimately decided he didn’t want to take a step back and that’s his prerogative. The notion that the state of NASCAR put FRR out of business is a bit overblown. FRR could have survived with an RCR alliance and asking for less from a potential sponsor. It comes back to not wanting to take a step down.
Gibbs took a no discretion, cutthroat approach. TRD’s flagship team wanted Truex and Cole Pearn in-house. A combination of Pearn and the resources at JGR should terrify the rest of the garage. JGR bolstered their lineup and their engineering staff with this move.
The fallout from this could be damaging for JGR and TRD in the future. Not only with potential teams that want to form an alliance but also with fans. NASCAR fans are a fickle bunch and if they feel someone was wronged they’ll be vocal. Thankfully JGR employs Kyle Busch so being booed is nothing new.