HOMESTEAD, FL – All the talk during the weekend is on how the Championship 4 drivers feel about their chances of winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship. But Friday morning NASCAR held a press conference to share a different perspective from the owners and top executives on their championship journey.
It was an odd moment for Furniture Row Racing president Joe Garone as he was in the press conference as a finalist for the Cup championship and also to speak about the last race for the entire race team. Sunday will be the final race for Furniture Row Racing after announcing earlier this year that they will cease operations at the end of the 2018 season.
It has been a tough ending for the team even with the opportunity to take home a championship on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s been brutal at the end here. But in the beginning, it was just so much fun – every weekend – for Furniture Row, it was such a linear uphill climb starting from scratch,” Garone said.
The end is near for the team based in Denver, Colorado but there is some positivity to look forward to during Championship Weekend.
For the other three teams, their operations will continue as normal going into next season. They all want to take home the Cup championship trophy but only one will.
Tony Stewart who co-owns Stewart-Haas Racing is looking at a different scenario. As a former driver and champion, he knows what it feels like behind the wheel. As an owner, it’s been a long ride for him, going from a two-car team to a four-car team.
“Technology is so great and changes so fast in our sport, you can never predict where everything is going to end up. You have to do the work. You have to have the right people in place, and the rest of it has to work itself out,” Stewart said.
Each team has taken a unique path to arrive where they are today. Sponsorship remains one of the key factors.
Walter Czarnecki, the executive vice president of Penske Racing, sees sponsorship as a major part of the sport, saying, “We have 40 different companies that work with us as sponsor partners, business partners, strategic partners on many different levels. I think it’s indicative of the strength of the sport.”
Joe Gibbs who owns Joe Gibbs Racing also feels that sponsors have brought his program a long way.
“We’re racing 11 cars in four different series, and the Lord has blessed us. We’ve got some of the biggest and best partners, and in the last year and a half, we’ve added nine new partner situations for us,” Gibbs said.
The business side of the sport is one that some fans never see. NASCAR having this press conference gave everyone a unique look at what executives can expect from their teams and performances. The Championship 4 executives have their hands full just like the drivers but arguably in a more complicated way.