Toyota’s level of performance throughout the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has been a popular topic of conversation throughout the sport. But even among the teams that run Japanese engines, Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 78 team has been in a class of its own.
And Denny Hamlin thinks he knows why.
Hamlin told Motorsport.com on Tuesday that Furniture Row Racing seemingly has had more speed in its back pocket all season. As a result, even when FRR has a less than perfect weekend, it can still pick up a good result.
“I think they’ve just got a little bit more speed in reserve, honestly,” Hamlin said. “I mean, they build their own bodies and do their own thing out there. They just use our parts to put it all together. They do a phenomenal job.”
Hamlin’s team, Joe Gibbs Racing, has been outperformed this year by the Denver-based outfit, with which it has a technical alliance. Given that JGR is a much larger organization than FRR, many have suggested the latter might have found a loophole in the regulations that would explain Truex’s superior pace.
Although the 36-year-old doesn’t think that’s the case, the working relationship between JGR and FRR has given him insight into where Truex and his crew have an advantage.
“I think they can be a little bit off in balance and still be a little bit faster than what we are,” Hamlin said. “Where I feel like the races we run competitive with him, my balance has been superb, and then I hear in our debriefing, he hated his car.”
In addition to the shear amount of speed Furniture Row has in hand, Hamlin suggests that part of the team’s success could lie in its size. As a two-car operation, FRR’s focus isn’t spread out nearly as much as JGR’s, both drivers likely receive updates at the same time and it can throw its weight behind a single car — which especially is noteworthy given that Truex is a favorite for this year’s championship.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
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