Defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. has lost 5-hour Energy as a sponsor at Furniture Row Racing as the company has opted to end its NASCAR sponsorship program after the season.
5-hour Energy is the primary sponsor for Truex for 14 races this year, having moved to Truex's car from the one of Erik Jones after last season as Furniture Row downsized from a two-car to a one-car team.
5-hour Energy could not leave for another organization at least through 2019 as its sponsorship contract with Furniture Row Racing was grandfathered-in when Monster Energy became the primary sponsor of the NASCAR Cup Series starting in 2017. The renewal clauses in the original contract would have allowed 5-hour to continue with Truex under the grandfather clause.
Rise Meguiar, president of sales for 5-hour Energy parent company Living Essentials, characterized the move as a business decision.
"Since joining Furniture Row Racing in 2017, the team has delivered on every promise," Meguiar said in a Furniture Row Racing news release. "In addition to being a championship team, winning races and putting 5-hour Energy in victory lane multiple times, they have also become part of our family. ... They are a first-class group on and off the track.
"Although 5-hour Energy has made the business decision to leave NASCAR, we will be fans and friends for life, and we look forward to finishing strong in 2018."
Truex is third in the current NASCAR Cup Series standings and ranks third in the series with four victories this year. While team owner Barney Visser has sponsored the car through his Furniture Row and Denver Mattress companies, he also has sponsorship from Bass Pro Shops, Auto-Owners Insurance and Toyota.
But the departure of 5-hour Energy could mean that contract extension talks between Truex and the team could stall until additional sponsorship is found. Truex, whose 16 wins over the last three seasons is the most of any driver wants to stay with the team.
"We understand that companies do change business strategies, but friendships last forever and that's how we feel about 5-hour Energy," Furniture Row Racing President Joe Garone said.
"Being a perennial championship contending team with a talented driver in Martin, Furniture Row Racing continues to be committed in offering a new sponsor not only success on the race track but also the benefit of a strong marketing platform with our powerful team of partners."