FOX NASCAR Quotes: Joy, McReynolds, Hammond, Labonte, Alexander and Spake on Closing of Furniture Row Racing


Joy: ‘Barney Visser will be remembered in this sport much like Alan Kulwicki, as someone who insisted on doing it his way’

Barney Visser, owner of defending champion Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team, announced on Tuesday the organization will shut down following the 2018 season due to a lack of funding.

Below, FOX NASCAR play-by-play announcer Mike Joy, analysts Larry McReynolds, Jeff Hammond and Bobby Labonte and NASCAR RACE HUB co-hosts Adam Alexander and Shannon Spake share their thoughts on Barney Visser’s legacy in the sport and the impact on the industry of the loss of the team.

On Barney Visser’s legacy in NASCAR:
“Barney Visser will be remembered in this sport much like Alan Kulwicki, as someone who insisted on doing it his way and succeeded where many said he could not. I have enormous admiration for what Barney, Joe Garone, Cole Pearn and Martin Truex Jr. have accomplished to this point. Barney was absolutely right in saying a lot of insiders doubted them, but he proved them wrong. They did all you could hope to do as a single-car team. The industry somewhat expected this, given the way the rumor mill was tilting, but this is a sad day. It’s sad when the championship team can’t make the numbers work.”
–Mike Joy

“Our sport is better today because of what Barney Visser and his team have accomplished. If you wrote a script about what makes NASCAR so unique, you could cast Barney Visser and Furniture Row Racing in the starring role. There isn’t a classier act in the garage. He has poured his blood, sweat and tears into that team and has built it into something that a long line of owners hasn’t been able to accomplish.”
–Larry McReynolds

On the impact on the sport of the team’s closing:
“The impact would be the same as if the owner of the Houston Astros said, ‘We just can’t afford to field a team next year.’ That sends a powerful message both within and outside the sport when the defending champion team can’t make it work financially. That’s a huge wake-up call.”
–Mike Joy

On the challenges for crewmembers of finding another job in NASCAR, given their location:
“I hate this for Martin Truex Jr. and Cole Pearn, but they will be together, most likely contending for a championship again next year. Who I feel for the most are the Furniture Row Racing team members who want to race for a living, but they will have relocate their families to do so. On any other NASCAR team, a crewmember can go down the street and put on a different crew shirt. I’d be willing to bet, though, Barney will help make sure they all have a job; unfortunately, it might not be in the racing industry.”
–Larry McReynolds

“This is a great time for a new consumer products or services company to get into the sport because there are more opportunities than there are sponsors. The cost of entry right now likely is lower than it has been in a number of years, making a NASCAR sponsorship a great value for someone. That’s why today’s announcement, while not completely unexpected, is still somewhat surprising. I have to believe there are companies out there that would embrace the sport.”
–Mike Joy

On the effect of the news on the team in its pursuit of the 2018 championship:
“It could go either way. In some cases, this could be motivation. This group wants to go out not as a Cup champion but as a two-time Cup Series champion. Barney Visser probably is the best car owner anyone could work for, and they want to do something special for him in his last year. Talk about a walk-off homerun to know they’ll load that car for the final time to head to Homestead, and it might return to an empty shop carrying a championship trophy.”
–Larry McReynolds

“If they’re distracted, they won’t make it out of the first round of the Playoffs without the issues being extremely apparent. The handwriting will be on the wall early on. If they have to fall back on playoff points to advance out of the first round, they won’t do well in the second round. Don’t forget that Martin has already experienced something similar in his career at Michael Waltrip Racing, and he had a long season as a result.”
–Jeff Hammond

“I’d say the distracting part came a month ago when there was so much rumor and uncertainty. That would have been the biggest blow, so this could galvanize them. You’d be foolish to say they’ll win the championship like it’s a ‘win one for the Gipper’ situation, but it’s possible.”
–Adam Alexander

“It could go one of two ways – it could either galvanize the team or become a huge distraction. Time will tell. You don’t know what it could do to some of the crew who won’t be a part of that core group going forward. They can either put their nose to the grindstone to prove it won’t be a distraction or they will struggle under the pressure of the Playoffs.”
–Shannon Spake

On Martin Truex Jr. and Cole Pearn’s quest for the 2018 championship:
“I expect Martin to land safely with another team next year, so that’s less pressure for him than the unknown. It will be hard for the team to stay focused, though. The longer Martin has to wait to solidify and announce his 2019 plans, the antsier things could get.”
–Bobby Labonte

On the sponsorship climate in NASCAR:
“Everybody today in the sport has a sharp pencil and a big eraser and is trying to find ways to do as much as possible with less. We see that in some of the driver contracts that have been publicized, and we see it in some of the sponsor renewals. All that goes to how many people are attending or watching on a daily basis. We’re far from where we were in 2006 when you couldn’t walk down a supermarket aisle without running into a NASCAR star cardboard cutout. What’s to blame? Changing tastes or shorter attention spans? Yes, somewhat. But when you walk through the garage and look at the cars, you’ll see a lot more B2B sponsorships than B2C. The B2B deals are great for teams and sponsors but how do they bring more people to the track and more eyeballs to the TV set? They’re good in the short-term, but how do they help the health and future of the sport?”
–Mike Joy