ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Who's left to run for Furniture Row?

Updated on September 24, 2013
Who climbs behind the wheel of this car next season?
Who climbs behind the wheel of this car next season? | Source

As NASCAR's silly season draws near a close, the team that started off most of the intrigue is the one still without a dance partner for 2014. Furniture Row Racing, which made NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup for the first time ever this season, has yet to sign a driver for next season. With current driver Kurt Busch off to Stewart-Haas Racing next season, the team will almost certainly take a step back in talent no matter who comes aboard. And despite the level of success they've experienced this year, several drivers have turned elsewhere instead of coming aboard. With the major players eliminated, it's time to look at the remaining options and see who might fit with Furniture Row.


So who's left? The choice still comes down to experience versus potential. There are several veteran drivers who likely still have much to give in the right circumstance. They may not take the team to a championship (or even the Chase) in the years ahead but they'll be able to make races and bring the car home in one piece. In one case, they also carry a past champion's provisional- which is never a bad thing to have in your back pocket. On the other side is potential. NASCAR's lower ranks have a number of drivers itching to get their chance at the Cup level. They're likely to come with a higher toll in wrecked race cars as they learn. At the same time, they have the talent to compete and could very well carry Furniture Row to its first Sprint Cup title.

Could Burton stay under the Childress umbrella and move to Furniture Row?
Could Burton stay under the Childress umbrella and move to Furniture Row? | Source
The ageless Mark Martin could prove to be the best of both worlds
The ageless Mark Martin could prove to be the best of both worlds | Source

The Veterans:

Jeff Burton. After struggling the past two seasons, Burton is out at Richard Childress Racing in favor of Ryan Newman next year. Yet “the Mayor” is still relatively competitive and remains popular with the fans. He's also been running at the finish in all but seven races since the end of 2010. He has a steady hand behind the wheel and the respect of his peers in the garage. He's also familiar with the team dynamic and equipment. Furniture Row recently announced they would continue their partnership with RCR next season- the very same RCR that Burton has run for since 2004. Finally, he's a known quantity to the people. Furniture Row and RCR tightened their technical alliance in 2013, with drivers from both teams participating in the weekly drivers meeting. All involved would know exactly what they're getting in bringing Burton aboard for next season.


Mark Martin. A known physical fitness fanatic, Martin's NASCAR career may well extend into his sixties. After a stint with Michael Waltrip Racing, he re-joined the Chevy camp back in August to replace Tony Stewart behind the wheel of the #14. But come next season, Stewart will be back and Martin seems likely to want another part time driving arrangement elsewhere- an arrangement Furniture Row might be inclined to consider. Bringing Martin aboard would enable the team to partner him with an up-and-coming driver. It's an arrangement Martin is familiar with, having served as part driver, part mentor for a number of others since his days splitting time with Aric Almirola at Dale Earnhardt Incorporated. He could also help bridge the gap between the present and the future. None of the veteran free agents will compete for a title next year and none of the rookies seem ready to do so. But pair them with Martin and they may well gain the experience they'll need to do it in the future.


Bobby Labonte. Labonte is the aforementioned past champion. He's had a disappointing run with JTG-Daugherty Racing the past few years and is being replaced there by A.J. Allmendinger next season. Yet Labonte is the epitome of the veteran skill set. He finished 34 of 36 races last season and has only two wrecks this season. To date, Furniture Row has shown zero interest in Labonte and he may well be on his way out of NASCAR next season.

Brian Scott is having the best season of his career for RCR's Nationwide team
Brian Scott is having the best season of his career for RCR's Nationwide team | Source
Blaney just won a Nationwide race in Kentucky. Is he ready for the Sprint Cup?
Blaney just won a Nationwide race in Kentucky. Is he ready for the Sprint Cup? | Source

The Rookies:

Ryan Blaney. Coming off his first Nationwide win in Kentucky, Blaney's stock has never been higher. While it helps to drive the fastest car in the field (something Penske's #22 clearly is this season), Blaney did his part behind the wheel. He also has a pair of Truck series wins and eight top five finishes in only 25 races at that level. Surprisingly, the 19 year old driver does not yet have a firm plan in place for 2014. He's yet to run a race at the Sprint Cup level and may benefit from another year in the Nationwide series. But he's got both the bloodlines and the talent to be a success in Cup and he's going to get a shot sooner rather than later. Why not 2014 for Furniture Row?


Ty Dillon. The same could be said for Dillon in both respects. With brother Austin Dillon moving up to the #3 Cup car next season, Ty will take Austin's place in the Nationwide series in 2014. Most observers believe that both Dillon brothers will eventually drive at the Cup level for their grandfather Richard Childress. Ty may well leapfrog Nationwide entirely and climb aboard the #78 at RCR's satellite team next year instead. Like Burton, Dillon is a familiar face to the team given his time in RCR's developmental program. He's also won a pair of truck races and has had 14 top five finishes in 41 races. The only drawback to Dillon is that he'll likely leave for RCR in two to three years and the team will pay the price in wrecked cars for his learning curve.


Brian Scott. Unlike the other two potential rookies, Scott is a relative veteran at age 25. He will make his Sprint Cup debut later this season in an RCR-prepared car at Charlotte. So he should bring a greater level of maturity (and fewer wrecked cars) than either Blaney or Dillon. As an RCR developmental driver, he's also someone who would be able to fit in seamlessly with the RCR-Furniture Row alliance. He's never finished in the top five of either the Nationwide or Truck season standings but he's in the midst of the best season of his career right now. He's scored 12 top ten finishes, a pole start, and has led 254 laps over the course of the season. He's also finished 26 of the 27 races, a sign that he may have finally left the hyper-aggressiveness of his youth behind.

Could Martin Truex Jr. be headed for Furniture Row?
Could Martin Truex Jr. be headed for Furniture Row? | Source

One driver who doesn't fit comfortably into either category is Martin Truex Jr. At 33 years of age, Truex is no longer a wide-eyed rookie. But neither is he a grizzled veteran. After the chaos that his season became at Richmond three weeks ago, Truex is viewed by many as damaged goods. His sponsor, NAPA, already announced their decision to pull the plug on Truex at the end of the season- despite the fact that Truex was not directly involved in the shenanigans NASCAR penalized MWR for. It's as if the auto parts giant already had buyer's remorse about the long term contract they'd signed earlier with the team and was grateful for an opportunity to break the deal. None of that speaks well for Truex.


Yet Martin's on-track results are solid. No, he's not an elite driver by any means. But he won earlier this year at Sonoma and has steadily improved his final points position each year since 2009 (a streak that will end this season by missing the Chase). He's also learned how to make bad days simply mediocre, mediocre days average, and average days good- something illustrated by his increasing number of top five and top ten finishes every year. Finally, after having driven for DEI at its end and MWR near its inception, Truex learned how to drive a car that might be a step behind what the competition has. For a single car team (no matter how closely aligned with RCR), that's a quality that cannot be overlooked.


Could Clint Bowyer be available before the 2014 season begins?
Could Clint Bowyer be available before the 2014 season begins? | Source

Furniture Row's wait may also be the result of another MWR driver. Clint Bowyer's current sponsor, Five Hour Energy, has been strangely silent on its plans for 2014. After upping their commitment the past two years and spending more money behind activating their sponsorship with Clint Bowyer, the energy drink maker has simply said they will evaluate their options at the end of the year. Maybe that's because they're waiting for the furor over Richmond to die down. Or maybe it's because they're genuinely non-plussed at what to do given the money they've spent already. Their comments about Brian France unilaterally adding Jeff Gordon to the Chase also hint at a company questioning their entire strategy vis-a-vis NASCAR. If they pull their sponsorship for next season, it's likely that MWR as a team will cease to exist. No team can seriously consider trying to put two unsponsored cars on the track and that's the exact dilemma MWR would face.


Bowyer is both a talented driver and a marketable personality. If available, he would be the ideal choice for Furniture Row both on and off the track. As the drivers left on the table aren't going anywhere, they have the ability to wait and see what happens with Bowyer and MWR. Given Bowyer's time at RCR, he's already familiar with most of the personnel and the team's way of doing business. Childress lost Bowyer before and now may well have an opportunity to bring him back into the fold with the demise of MWR. Having missed the opportunity to move elsewhere during the traditional silly season, Bowyer would realistically have little choice other than to sign with Furniture Row.


So we may still be months away from a decision on Furniture Row's part. They have little to gain by moving now while waiting may reward them with one of the better drivers in the garage. Failing that, there are still a number of options available to the team and all of those options will still be there come December. The only thing for certain is that whomever climbs behind the wheel will have a difficult goal in trying to match what Busch has already accomplished with the team this year in making NASCAR's playoffs.

Need more NASCAR news and opinion?

Another Left Turn columns here on hubpages at http://anotherleftturn.hubpages.com
Contact me via email at anotherleftturn@yahoo.com
Follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/astheleftturns

Now it's your turn!

What kind of driver will Furniture Row sign for 2014?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • arifhidayat1990 profile image

      arif hidayat 

      5 years ago from Indonesia

      woww..

    • profile image

      Tony Geinzer 

      5 years ago

      Frankly, I would find it cancerous for Furniture Row to believe that their 3rd Straight Driver would do them any good.

    • profile image

      Oldirtracker 

      5 years ago

      Martin, Burton, and Labonte should all ride off into the sunset, none are truly competitive anymore, none need the money, and I would hate to see any of them become a parasite like Darrell Waltrip staying too long and embarrassing himself and his fans.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)