“Toyota Transition Has Been Smooth,” says Martin Truex Jr.by Kyle Pokrefky June 10, 2016
BROOKLYN, Mich. — Furniture Row Racing’s move to underneath the Toyota umbrella was expected to have its share of speed bumps as the 2016 Sprint Cup season progressed – yet 14 races into the season the team is thriving.
While not recording results at the same level as their Championship Round season from one year ago, the Denver-based single-car team is already in the middle of putting together a solid season.
Sitting ninth in the drivers standings with Martin Truex Jr. entering Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway, the team is already locked into the Chase by virtue of a win in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Speaking at Michigan on Friday, Truex Jr. noted that the transition to running Toyotas from Chevrolets has gone relatively scot-free and has even taken the single-car team by surprise.
“It’s been a really smooth transition – I think smoother than any of us thought,” Truex Jr. said. “Barney [Visser, team owner] had planned on running the first 10 or so races and just being like so-so and trying to figure things out – maybe stumble a little bit until we kind of got everything ironed out, we got the cars built up and kind of got things figured out, but really we came out of the box strong at Daytona.”
Truex Jr., driver of the No. 78 Toyota, continued by issuing plenty of praise to many members of TRD [Toyota Racing Development] and Joe Gibbs Racing for their involvement with getting the single-car operation quickly up to speed.
“There’s a lot of people to credit for that,” he continued. “Obviously everybody at Toyota, David Wilson, Andy Graves – all those folks, everybody at TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and especially Joe Gibbs Racing. They’re obviously a big part of what we’re doing. The partnership has worked really well.
“All their crew chiefs, engineers, really just everyone from Coach [Gibbs] to the bottom really just welcomed in our team, said, ‘Here’s how we’re going to do things. We’re going to open book. We’re going to share everything,’ and that’s been a big part of the reason we got off the ground so quick.”
Overall, the move to the TRD/Joe Gibbs Racing family has proven to be a seamless one, and that hasn’t gone unnoticed by multiple members of the Furniture Row bunch.
The expertise provided by the Joe Gibbs Racing group has certainly proved beneficial for the single-car team, and Truex Jr. hopes to get his team to a point where they’re equally giving back as much as they’re getting with JGR.
“We just seem to have good chemistry from both sides, from the crew chief to our owner, Barney, and Joe [Garone, general manager] get along really well,” Truex Jr. said. “Cole [Pearn, crew chief] has done a great job I think and even all the other drivers have been great to work with for me, so it’s been a lot of fun so far to learn all that stuff – how they do things.
“We’ve learned a lot from there and hopefully as we get down the road here they’re going to learn something from us, so it’s been good. I feel like the last month and a half, we’ve brought quite a bit to the table, so that’s good.”
Photo Credit: Kena Krutsinger/NASCAR via Getty Images