Furniture Row Knows: Used Stuff Can Be Bargain
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Some racing thoughts:
The old mailback seems to tell this story: Fans think hiring Kurt Busch was a huge mistake on the part of Furniture Row Racing.
The thought here is that that is probably true – if Furniture Row is more concerned about its image than with improving on-track performance.
The current image of Furniture Row is: Charming little team that is bucking the trend by locating its operation in Denver. Colorado that is.
Furniture Row moved from a part-time operation to a full-schedule team in 2010. It did so by hiring a group of North Carolina-based employees who had been thrown out of work in the economic disaster years of 2008 and 2009 and moving them to Colorado. That crew, in part bound together by their reject status, bonded and produced.
The team, owned by Colorado businessman Barney Visser and managed by NASCAR veteran Joe Garone, also opted to end its practice of bringing in past-prime drivers and put young, promising youngster Regan Smith in the seat.
The result was time-to-time overachievement as Smith showed an ability to post top-10 finishes on those days when the the stars line up in correct fashion.
And Smith has been a good, if somewhat invisible, citizen.
But charming and good are not the goals in professional sports. Winning races is the goal. Championships, if possible.
The 2012 season has represented, a step back for FRR. Yes, on the track but, perhaps as importantly, in the minds of those in Colorado who thought a Chase berth might be possible.
The problems are probably more the fault of the suddenly Richard Childress Racing equipment, which has been behind the curve across the board this year, than of Smith. But some times it takes severe grabbing and shaking to cast off even slight cases the doldrums.
Hiring Busch, most know, represents very severe.
Busch, the 2004 Sprint Cup champion, is an elite wheelman. One with a head-shaking background which has seen him and his temper blow mega chances at top teams like Roush Fenway and Penske Racing, but elite none the less. What he has done with the eight-person Phoenix Racing has been impressive, if not heartwarming even for his critics.
Visser and Garone are clearly doing what many in pro sports management have done over the years; what Roger Penske did in 2006. They are gambling that they can strip away half of a label which reads “talented but troubled.”
FRR has plans. Expansion to two full-time cars. Perhaps a Nationwide car. But first, it has to show that it can achieve with its one-car operation. This week it announced that it gone to a scratch and dent sale and came away with one hell of a bargain.
The thought here is: Why not take the chance? Busch has got to grow up some time. Doesn’t he?
As ordered by Formula 1, the new media center at Indianapolis Motor Speedway had every electronic gee-gaw imaginable when it opened 2000. Quite an impressive place, we all nodded as we walked in for the first time.
But sitting among the scoring monitors and computer screens and lap tops was a beaten up old typewriter. A Royal, I think it was.
It looked lonely but proud sitting at its work station near the front of the massive, glass and steel room. Just as did its owner.
That owner, journalist Chris Economaki, died this week. He was 91. Most knew that Chris was in declining health in recent years. The extent of that became clear last year when those of us who served on the Driver of the Year voting panel with him were told that he would not join in the lively quarterly teleconference/debates which preceded the voting: Chris not participate in voting? Had to be bad, we figured.
During a time when the term journalist is self-applied by every hack who owns a lap top or is handed a microphone or is placed in front of a television camera, Economaki worked as an example of what the term means and stands for.
This week, Economaki became what no real journalist wants to be: part of the story.
You will be missed, Chris. And remembered.
Finally…Good to see Gateway back and operating. Never could figure out why racing never caught on near St. Louis, the home of the Wallaces, Ken Schrader, Carl Edwards (kind of). Now that the NHRA has returned, the hope is NASCAR will return as well. Heck of an interesting oval, there. It was called a lot of things over the years but never cookie-cutter…Love the news that things went well in the meeting between officials of the merged American sports car series and officials of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). The belief here is that it is essential that links between Le Mans and the United States remain strong…Sorry to hear about the NASCAR shuttle flight rolling off the runway and getting stuck in that rich, red North Carolina mud. Those of us who hate to fly and have never really understood the physics of successfully keeping a many-tonned metal bus aloft can imagine what the passengers of the NASCAR flight were thinking on Friday.
– Jim Pedley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments