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NASCAR VIEW: Furniture Row's talk of possibly splitting with Chevy could pay off

Posted On Thursday, 11 June 2015 20:00 Written by
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BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Much of the focus on the #78 car's recent success has been on driver Martin Truex Jr. He's led the most laps in the past four races, won last week and nearly had a couple more victories.

The team is among the class of the field in Cup this year, and accolades are going to Truex and the Denver-based team that builds all the cars he's doing so well in each week (many of which are brand-new).

Behind the scenes though, there is some interesting drama happening.

Furniture Row general manager Joe Garone has publicly stated, and did so again Friday at Michigan International Speedway.

In a nutshell, Garone was blunt -- saying that Chevy (their manufacturer for a decade) is a great organization but spread thin. They have so many race teams that once the support is all handed out, some teams are left disappointed, including Furniture Row.

“It is it’s about business. We are in a sport that is real expensive. We truly can’t afford to do it. We can do it. When I say we can’t afford to do I mean at the level we want to push it to in order to be able to be in position to win a championship. We need more resources. Chevrolet has been a great partner. We have been together for 10 years now. But they are spread across… they do a great job look at all the championships they have won. But to get to the level we need to get to we need to get a lot more support. We are open and have been looking to try and get that just to push our team forward further.”

He did not say FRR will split with Chevy, but did say they are open to other manufacturers if more support can be offered. After all, the sport is expensive.

That is true; but it's a risky strategy to do this so publicly -- still, it's a strategy that could pay off: With Chevy or someone else.

Garone is not worried about any impact this discussion will have on the 78 team this year as they pursue a title.

“The truth is we didn’t say we were changing. We were just saying that we are looking. It is just something that we need to do across the board including sponsorship. One of the things about the No. 78 car is because it has always had Furniture Row and Denver Mattress on it everybody assumes it is sponsored. It has made it tough to find partners, but again Barney (Visser, team owner) owns those companies. We need to get the word out that we are actively looking for sponsorship to come on board. Not just for the No. 78, but to expand the company into a multi-car team. It is for the long term growth of the team. We will just see what plays out and just keep pushing the button and try to expand this thing.”

Let's look at possible outcomes:

A: Chevy recognizes their success and offers more support:
-- This is, I believe, the outcome Furniture Row wants to see. By publicly saying they need more support, then showing they can be successful on track, the FRR team gains suitors from outside. If Chevy wants to keep them, they will have to step up. Logic would dictate that this should happen; but budgets are tricky and Chevy might not be able to do as much as FRR wants.

B: Furniture Row leaves Chevy for another car make next year:
-- If Chevy won't step up, this is the most likely outcome. I can see Toyota as the most likely manufacturer to step up and court the Furniture Row team; They need some more stars in their lineup and Truex is talented and has a name. Ford is a longshot, as they need to get their current house in order before adding teams. It's not so great lately at the Blue Oval, though Team Penske is a bright spot most weeks.

C: FRR can't find a better deal and begrudgingly stick with Chevy and current level of support:
-- This is the worst possible scenario, and the team will do everything it can to avoid this. Both sides will have hurt feelings and not work very well together in this scenario, and 2016 would most likely be a rough season for Truex and the 78 team.
What will happen?

I say option A is most likely and the public announcement of this exploration of car makes will pay off for Furniture Row. But I wouldn't bet my house on it. If Chevy won't step up to the plate (or can't afford to do that), it's probably going to be the #78 Toyota next season.
They've stepped up in the past to get top drivers and this would be another example of their willingness to pay to get top talent and teams.

Matt Myftiu can be reached on Twitter @MattMyftiu. Follow AutoTechReviews on Twitter @AutoTechReview or at the Facebook page:

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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