By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – When the checkered flag flies on Sunday, the book will finally be closed on Furniture Row Racing as the team will be shuttering its doors over the offseason regardless if they win a second-straight title or not.
Ahead of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars hitting the track for the first time, team president Joe Garone addressed the team’s closure and how they have been rallying around each other in the final days.
“It’s been brutal at the end here. But in the beginning, it was just so much fun to‑‑ every weekend‑‑ for Furniture Row, it was such a linear uphill climb starting from scratch, and there’s a lot of pride that can be taken and satisfaction when you’re building a company that’s constantly growing and improving, and really it took several years before we actually had a dip, and then once we went through that dip, we were able to start climbing back up again.
“Better equipment, better people, year after year, more money gets poured into it, but the rewards come back better, and it just‑‑ it’s an amazing story.
“Along with that, you can also imagine how sick you feel when you see it coming to a close. You deal with those emotions and look at what life’s next great adventure is going to be, and I think that’s where we’re at, but we want to close this out on top first if we can beat these guys.”
The Denver, Colorado based team, which launched in 2005, has seen a renaissance in recent years as they made the journey from also-ran team to championship contender under the guidance of Garone, team owner Barney Visser and the driver/crew chief pairing of Martin Truex, Jr. and Cole Pearn.
That journey culminated in them hoisting the championship trophy at the end of last season, a first for both team and driver. A year later, the group is looking to ascend to the top of the mountain once more before riding off into the sunset.
“This group did not want to come to a halt,” Garone added. “Barney, his intention was not to stop. In fact, he absolutely did not want to quit. We tried to put it together to where we could continue running, and we just weren’t able to do it.
“We worked together to get to this point, and Martin, man, I don’t think it matters. He is hungry. He wants to get out here and close off his time with Furniture Row on a high, and I’m sure he’s looking forward to his future, as well. This will be a great closure here at Homestead, I believe.”
Truex and Pearn will be heading to Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 19 team next season, while the majority of the team employees have found work with other NASCAR teams or elsewhere.
As far as the organization’s equipment and the team’s shop in Denver, how that all plays out is still up for debate.
Regardless of how Sunday plays out, Furniture Row’s presence in NASCAR will be a bright spot in the sport’s history and all involved will continue to cherish what the team has been able to do in their short time here.
“I’ve had equipment for sale behind the scenes for about a month now just getting it out there, what we’d be moving and what we’d be keeping,” Garone said. “For the most part, the majority of everything will be sold. The shop is going to stay intact at the moment.
“Barney is funny, you know, at one moment he wants to keep it like in a showroom condition with as many cars as we can keep so people can still come see and remember the history, and at other times he wants to change it into a different manufacturing plant.
“So, I’m not exactly sure what our future is, but he has a real heart for this and wants to preserve for as long as he can, possibly for years with his kids this moment in history that he’s gone through.”