Although Furniture Row Racing has confirmed the worst — it will cease operations at the end of the season — there are still some big questions to be answered. The most significant being where does Martin Truex Jr. land?
Truex is the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion and has become a hot commodity in recent years. Landing at Furniture Row in 2014, he rocketed into the spotlight when the success started in ’15 with a playoff appearance followed by multiple wins in ’16 and then, of course, his incredible ’17 championship run.
One possibility is that Truex will head to Joe Gibbs Racing, which has been the alliance partner of FRR the last three seasons. Gibbs could put Truex in the No. 19 Toyota and shift Daniel Suarez over to Leavine Family Racing because LFR has been heavily rumored to be making a manufacturer change to Toyota.
Joe Gibbs told ESPN after the race at Darlington that he likes his stable of drivers and likes Suarez. But an available Truex, a driver who has won 17 races since 2015, is going to be very enticing.
If crew chief Cole Pearn is going to be a part of the package, then even more so. Pearn is one of the brightest minds in the garage, and every team would rather compete with him than against him.
Stewart-Haas Racing might have an open seat if Kurt Busch leaves, as he has been rumored to be doing. SHR is a championship-winning organization that has only gotten stronger since aligning itself with Ford.
What else is out there? Not much, if Truex is honest with himself when it comes to ready-to-win teams. While it is looking for a new alliance partner, Leavine is also looking for a driver to replace Kasey Kahne. But Leavine is still building itself up as single-car operation and has not finished better than 26th in the points.
And just to put it out there, we still don’t know the futures of drivers and teams who aren’t getting as much silly season attention. Among those: If Kurt Busch doesn’t take the No. 1 car, does the seat still open if Jaime McMurray retires? What about the future of Ryan Newman at Richard Childress Racing? Roush Fenway Racing also has decisions to make with its No. 6 car.
But until Joe Gibbs Racing firmly shuts the door on hiring Truex, the speculation will lean heavily toward his landing there.
And, oh, by the way, another charter is now available for the taking as Furniture Row will have to sell theirs. Sure, it may not sound important as charters continue to change hands, but because of the performance of Truex and the team the last few years, this charter will be one of the more valuable ones as a portion of the revenue a charter brings is based on the last three years’ performance of the car associated with it.