Furniture Row Racing, the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champions, announced Tuesday that it will cease operations after this season.

The question everyone is asking, of course, is how could this happen? How could a team that employs Martin Truex Jr., one of NASCAR’s most dominant drivers, not amass enough funds to stay afloat?

There are many reasons for Furniture Row’s impending demise, but NASCAR legend and FOX Sports analyst Michael Waltrip believes he knows the primary cause.

Waltrip, who rarely criticizes NASCAR, essentially is saying it costs too much money to build competitive cars.

And, well, he’s not wrong.

The phrase “stock car” used to describe a race car that had not been significantly modified from its original factory build. Nowadays, stock cars really are expensive, highly modified versions of production vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Camaro or the Toyota Camry, both of which are used in NASCAR.

Furniture Row’s anchor sponsor, 5-Hour Energy, announced in July that it would leave NASCAR after this season, putting the team in the unenviable position of replacing roughly $10 million. Furthermore, FRR also was tasked with offsetting the rising costs of maintaining its technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Despite Furniture Row’s recent dominance, it would’ve been extremely difficult for the one-driver, Denver-based Cup team to gather the money necessary to field a competitive Cup team. Of course, FRR hardly is the only NASCAR team plagued with such issues.

Ultimately, Furniture Row isn’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last team to succumb to the financial demands of competing in Cup. Perhaps its disappointing end, however, will be the wake-up call that NASCAR needs.

Thumbnail photo via Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY Sports Images