Furniture Row Racing has no plans to field its NASCAR Cup No. 77 car next season, downsizing from two cars to one with 2017 championship contender Martin Truex Jr. behind the wheel.
The announcement Wednesday was no surprise as team owner Barney Visser has said for the past two months that he needed additional sponsorship to continue operating a second car. Erik Jones, who is driving the No. 77 car this year, already had signed to replace Matt Kenseth at Joe Gibbs Racing next season.
Truex leads the Cup Series standings and has a series-high six victories this year. Jones, a rookie, is 19th in the NASCAR Cup standings.
“It is our organization’s goal to operate a two-car team in the future and we will continue to seek sponsorship funding for the No. 77,” Visser said in a statement. “Our 100 percent focus for next season will be on the No. 78 Toyota Camry, which will be driven by Martin Truex Jr.”
The furniture store owner has sponsored the Truex car himself in about 40 percent of the races, with the remaining events sponsored primarily by Bass Pro Shops and Auto-Owners Insurance. The Jones car has had partial-season backing from 5-hour Energy, which has not announced plans for next season and can’t move to another team without permission from Monster Energy.
When Monster Energy signed to sponsor the NASCAR Cup Series starting this season, the grandfather clause allowed its competitors to remain in the series only if they had existing contracts (the 5-hour Energy contract with Furniture Row has options, allowing it to remain there).
JTG Daugherty Racing’s Tad Geschickter confirmed that his team will purchase the No. 77 charter (a guaranteed starting spot with guaranteed purse money) — pending NASCAR approval — for driver Chris Buescher next season.