5 questions with Barney Visser as he prepares his NASCAR exit
Furniture Row Racing owner Barney Visser says his emotions are “all over the board” as he reflects on a very successful NASCAR run.
This weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, FRR will compete for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship for the third time in the past four years. The team’s driver, Martin Truex Jr., is looking for his second consecutive title.
The ending, regardless of outcome, will be bittersweet. The team announced in September that it will cease operations at the end of the season.
Visser recently addressed some of the topics surrounding this weekend’s championship race.
Q: What are the team’s and your personal thoughts going into the final race of the season and also the final race for Furniture Row Racing?
From a team standpoint we’re going to try and not get too emotional. We’re going to try and just execute. We don’t want to run our emotions up too high until the race is over. I think at the same time we have a strong chance of winning this thing. Mile-and-a-half tracks are our specialty.
For me personally, my emotions are all over the board. I am sad not to be able to continue. I am going to miss the guys for sure, miss this whole thing. I don’t know what it’s going to feel like exactly when it’s over. And I don’t know what the emotions will be like when the Daytona 500 rolls around next year and we’re not in it. I just don’t know how emotional it will be. I am afraid it will be enormous. We’ll see, just have to live through it.
Q: Do you feel that shutting down was a distraction for the team’s performance?
I think Joe Garone (team president) has done a good job managing that as well as it could be managed. I think it’s been difficult. But I believe everyone in that shop wants to win the championship and we still have the common goal and that’s to win it again.
And speaking of Joe, he has been the catalyst in building this team to a championship level. I knew nothing about racing and I depended on Joe and he sure delivered in a big way. He is at the shop every morning, travels with the team – a seven-day-a-week guy who rarely took a day off. He has an uncanny ability to go through mountains of information and sort the unimportant from the important. He filled whatever role needed to be filled. He was the glue of this team and I sincerely appreciate his talent and work ethic. We would not be going to Homestead challenging for a championship without him.
Q: For you personally, what is the hardest and most difficult aspect to deal with about shutting down the operation after the season?
To get this kind of group of guys pulled together is pretty special. I feel it’s a once-in-a-lifetime happening. However, I am fortunate that it has happened to me two other times – in my retail business and manufacturing business. It’s so rare to get a group of people you like being with, and who accomplish things that other people can’t seem to do. Pretty special to find that chemistry and the success that comes with it. It’s hard to give it up, but sometimes it’s taken away from you without having any recourse. I just couldn’t keep borrowing money over here to feed it over there. Just had to give it up.
Q: Do you have any regrets or second thoughts about shutting down the operation?
Once things got far enough along there was no turning back. Only way that could have not happened if a sponsor brought us a big check. We hit the wall and had no choice. The guys needed time to find employment and that’s why we announced our decision when we did. I told Martin (Truex Jr.) to start looking around. Martin has been very good to us … always drove for less money than what other teams were paying and brought us a championship. I wish Martin and Cole (Pearn, crew chief) all the best next year at Joe Gibbs Racing. Two outstanding individuals who are extremely talented in what they do. They will be a huge asset to JGR.
Q: You defied all the critics about being based in Denver. Did you ever think when you started your NASCAR journey that Furniture Row Racing would evolve to being one of the elite teams?
I always thought we could. For the last five or six years I knew we could. We knew we were building fast race cars and progressing in the right direction. Regan (Smith) won at Darlington, beating Carl Edwards to the finish. That showed everyone that we could build fast cars. Because of that we kept on attracting good people and eventually joined forces with Toyota and forged a successful technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing. The chips were starting to fall in the right place and our record of reaching the final four in three of the last four years is a pretty strong statement about the caliber of our team.
From the editor, also read:
NASCAR legend David Pearson passes away at the age of 83
Kyle Busch: "You want to race the best of the best" for Cup title