The final two stops on day two of the tour featured Furniture Row Racing and Hendrick Motorsports. Furniture Row found its most success last season with Kurt Busch in the driver’s seat, but Busch has been replaced by Martin Truex, Jr., who piloted a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota in 2013.
Furniture Row is the only single car team to ever make the Chase and is the only Cup team headquartered west of the Mississippi River. Their alliance with Richard Childress Racing was hailed as vital to their performance.
“Our team is intact from last year,” said team manager Joe Garone. “We didn’t want the season to end.” Crew Chief Todd Berrier said, “Things have come together very well with Martin. I felt like we had strong opportunities to win races last year, so we strengthened the things we needed to work on.”
In an unusual turn of events, Truex was not at the press conference. After some jokes about where in the world he was, he appeared on the big screen during his vacation in the Caribbean. Questions were asked of Truex from a really long distance.
“I know all of you are tired of hearing everyone say they are excited for this year, so I’ll just say I’m fired up, Truex said. “I couldn’t be more pleased about how the way things have gone. Luckily, we will be in the Chase. I’ve been in the Chase and kicked out of the Chase before. I want to take this team to the next level. I wanted to get away from last year and what happened at the end of the season and this situation helps a lot.”
The final team on Day Two’s schedule was NASCAR’s most successful team of the last two decades, Hendrick Motorsports. The first question team owner Rick Hendrick was asked is what is most thrilling moment in the 30 years HMS has existed?
“I think it will have to be when Ricky (Hendrick’s son who was killed in a plane crash near Martinsville, Virginia) won his truck race. My second most thrilling moment was when Geoff Bodine won the first race for HMS at Martinsville. We were about to close the doors on the operation, and those that close rarely ever open up again.”
Asked about the changes to qualifying that NASCAR has proposed, the drivers (Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.), all seemed to be in agreement.
Johnson said if it was good for the sport and it would keep the grandstands full and television ratings high, he was all for it. Kahne felt it would give him a better shot of winning and starting near the front. Earnhardt said that he was “all for it,” and even though he does not like change, he has gotten used to it. Gordon said after watching Formula-1, he thinks it will create excitement for the race.
When Hendrick was asked why he wasn’t heavily invested in the Nationwide Series, he said, “I had a development program a few years ago and it almost broke me, but helping Dale, Jr. has helped. I’ll help him to do that.”
Other issues were discussed including the bet between Kyle Busch and Kahne on the Super Bowl. Kahne is an avid Seahawks fan and Busch is a Broncos fan. Who ever wins has to wear the other team’s jersey for a week. “I don’t want to wear an orange jersey under any circumstances,” Kahne said.