With the 2017 season firmly in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to reflect on what happened. What else are we going to talk about?
Previously: Front Row Motorsports, Richard Petty Motorsports, JTG-Daugherty Racing, Germain Racing and Leavine Family Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Team Penske and the Wood Brothers, Stewart-Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing
Points Position: 20th
Stage Points: 162
Top 5s: 5
Top 10s: 14
Average Starting Position: 14.1
Average Finish: 17.6
Highlight: Jones started first at Bristol in August and might have had the best car. He led 260 of the race’s 500 laps but got passed by Kyle Busch with 56 laps to go. Jones ended up finishing second, his best finish of the season.
Lowlight: Jones had the speed to contend for a playoff berth in 2017. He didn’t have the consistency. He crashed out of eight races, including six races in the regular season. It’s not hard to wonder if Jones makes the playoffs if he crashes at half the rate he did. But at the same time, he was a rookie in 2017. That stuff sometimes happens.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.
Points Position: 1st
Stage Points: 438
Top 5s: 19
Top 10s: 26
Average Starting Position: 6.8
Average Finish: 9.4
Highlight: This one is pretty obvious, isn’t it? Truex won the final race of the season to take home his first Cup Series trophy. The win meant Truex became the fifth driver to win both an Xfinity Series title and a Cup Series title.
Lowlight: It’s hard to find a lowlight in a title-winning season, but we’ll go with a summer swoon for Truex. He had an engine issue at Sonoma and finished 37th. A week later at Daytona, Truex was caught in a crash and finished 34th. And then less than a month after Daytona, Truex was involved in that restart crash with Kyle Busch at Indianapolis.
Truex and Furniture Row joined forces in 2014 more by lack of other options than anything else. But group that partnership with the hire of Cole Pearn as Truex’s crew chief and the team’s alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing and it’s been an incredibly fruitful one.
No one had any idea Truex would be winning a Cup Series title after his first year with Furniture Row. It stunk. Truex had five top-10 finishes and finished 24th in the points. The team added Pearn the next season and success happened. Quickly.
Truex won a race and had 22 top-10 finishes in 2015, the team’s final season with Chevrolet. As it moved to Toyota and a JGR alliance in 2016, that success increased. Truex has won 12 races and scored 43 top-10 finishes over the past 72 races.
The team moved to two cars in 2017 with the addition of Jones, but that’s a one-year experiment. With Jones replacing Matt Kenseth at JGR and no sponsor/driver combination to replace Jones, the team decided to shutter the car rather than fund it out of pocket. In this NASCAR world of rising costs, we can’t necessarily blame FRR for that decision. It allows the team to focus all its financial resources on Truex and the No. 78 car. Asking for FRR to win eight races next year is a massive stretch, but Truex will be visiting victory lane multiple times again in 2018.
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