The biggest underdog story in Colorado sports the weekend before Thanksgiving isn’t 25-year-old Brock Osweiler making his first NFL start (against his old coach, no less). No, that distinction goes to the one-man band that is Martin Truex Jr. and Furniture Row Racing, the single-car outfit that has defied the odds on the track and off and enters Sunday’s finale at Homestead, Fla. with a one-in-four chance to win NASCAR’s top honor, the Sprint Cup. And in typical fashion, Truex will have overcome some challenges to find victory.
Mile High Sports motorsports insider Kurt Hansen has been with the team off and on throughout this magical season and spoke extensively on Truex’s chances during his final Race Central radio show before the big race. He says the Furniture Row team isn’t thrilled with their 11th place qualifying position. Truex will need to pass both Kyle Busch (third) and Jeff Gordon (fifth) and keep Kevin Harvick (13th) in his rearview mirror to secure a win. That’ll be easier said than done, according to Colorado Motorsports Hall of Famer Joe Starr, who joined Hansen on Friday’s show.
“It’s going to be a free-for-all,” Starr said, “we’ve got all this talk about ‘they’re going to make it hard for this guy to pass or that guy to pass because we’re going to be helping teammates’ so no you’ve got 12 guys working against Truex – and maybe you’ve also got three, four guys helping Truex, too – so now you’ve got 16 guys helping the other four,” it just might mean it’s someone else’s day to pick up a win.
Truex doesn’t need a win to secure the Sprint Cup, just a better finish than Busch, Gordon or Harvick, and Hansen was speculative about which drivers on the track Sunday might be willing to help the one-car outfit of Furniture Row. Next season Truex and FRR will switch from Chevy to Toyota, so Hansen thinks there could be some help from the Toyota drivers who’d love to have a championship-winning driver in their car for next year. He even thinks Truex’s former teammates at Richard Childress Racing could lend a hand, giving upwards of six cars of support between RCR and Toyota.
As Kurt recounted his time spent with the team this past month, he said there were more than a few “wink, wink and nod, nods” coming from folks in the pits as he passed them wearing his Furniture Row Racing hat. Truex is extremely well-liked among the other drivers and there’s special motivation to pull out a series championship for his longtime girlfriend Sherry Pollex, who is currently undergoing treatment for Stage III ovarian cancer.
Even drivers with teammates in the final, like Dale Earnhardt Jr., who drives with Jeff Gordon for Hendrick Motorsports, admitted via Twitter that he’d like to see Truex pull out a win. Gordon is retiring after this season and there are many NASCAR fans who would love to see the Rainbow Warrior add a fifth title (and first in the Chase format), so the competing feel-good stories are front and center as the race nears.
Regardless of the outcome Sunday, Hansen says he’ll have a spring in his step through the short offseason, knowing that there are big thing ahead for Truex and the Furniture Row Team, including the possible addition of a second car to the team.
Go ahead and record the Broncos on Sunday, says Starr. The big story happens at Homestead.
Listen to the full discussion between Hansen and Starr in the podcasts below…