As events out of his control snowballed and ultimately cost him his job at Michael Waltrip Racing, Martin Truex Jr. didn't know what his future held.
The news of NAPA withdrawing its multi-million dollar sponsorship hit Truex like a "punch in the face" and "terrified" him that he would be rideless for the 2014 season. Those fears, however, were assuaged Friday, when Furniture Row Racing announced it had signed Truex to a "multi-year" contract to drive its No. 78 Chevrolet.
"I think the biggest thing for me as a driver is a few weeks ago, when dominoes started to fall, I wasn't sure where I would end up," Truex said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. "To have an opportunity like this, this late in the season, I just feel really blessed. I feel really lucky and definitely excited and looking forward to the future with this team."
Although he had talked with other teams, none of those situations presented a concrete opportunity. Most were dependent on finding sponsorship, and with NAPA's future in the sport uncertain, Truex remained in limbo.
Just as he was "blessed" to secure a seat with a competitive organization, Furniture Row was equally happy to sign a driver of Truex's stature.
Despite a breakthrough 2013 campaign which saw the Denver-based operation become the first single-car team to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Furniture Row needed to find a replacement for Kurt Busch, who had signed to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing next season.
The team's options were limited, however: either sign a young driver without the necessary experience to win right away, or a journeyman with little hope of building off the foundation Busch created.
Then fate intervened.
A race-fixing scandal Sept. 7 at Richmond International Speedway resulted in unprecedented penalties for MWR, including Truex's exclusion from the Chase. The fallout saw NAPA drop its support of the team, which in turn forced MWR to contract from three full-time cars to two for 2014.
"My first thought was, 'What am I going to do next year?'" Truex said. "Here it is September. Everybody's got their deals done for next year. I pretty much said, 'Oh, crap.' ... Right away, it was, 'Oh, this is bad. This could be real bad.'"
As these events unfolded, Furniture Row executives took note of Truex's potential availability.
"It was really a struggle to keep ourselves patient and just pray for the right opportunity to come along," said general manager Joe Garone. "And then, the right opportunity comes along. Probably an opportunity that you just couldn't even dream about having."
And the feeling was mutual.
"As unlucky as I got at Richmond a month or two ago, I got just as lucky when this deal turned up," Truex said. "What can you say? I guess all things happen for a reason, hopefully all this happened for a reason and we will be able to do some great things together."
Truex will not be the only former member of MWR joining Furniture Row, as the team has also signed his current pit crew. This fixes an area of weakness which has plagued them throughout this season, costing them a chance at several wins.
It was that commitment to winning that attracted Truex to Furniture Row.
"I can tell you from being at MWR, the turnaround that was made there a couple of years ago, it all starts at the top. Barney Visser (team owner) is the kind of guy that can make things happen ... I've been impressed in talking to him the way he handles himself, the businesses he has and obviously the race team at the end of the day is the big thing for me. He's been able to build a great one. Hopefully we can continue to make that better and make that stronger."