By Jerry Jordan, Editor
In the category of – they deserved it and they earned it – the 2022 lineup of drivers at Front Row Motorsports is made up of three scrappy racers who all showed the world they have what it takes to be among the best in the business.
Coming off a season-opening win in the Daytona 500 that foisted him into the NASCAR playoffs, Michael McDowell is behind the wheel of the No. 34 Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Cup Series.
McDowell will race with crew chief Drew Blickensderfer on top of the pit box in their fifth year together. This past season they again set new records for the organization with five top-10 and two top-five finishes with the highlight being the Daytona 500 victory.
“Excited to officially announce that I’ll be returning to the No. 34 Ford Mustang with @Team_FRM in 2022,” McDowell tweeted, as soon as the news was officially announced.
McDowell followed up stating, “I’m really looking forward to 2022 and the fresh start it brings across the sport. It’s an exciting time for the NASCAR Cup Series and for us at FRM. We have proven that we can win and now we want to find that consistency throughout the season to be even better.”
Jenkins said that McDowell’s win helped bring the team to a new level.
“It was a storybook season for Michael, Drew and the 34 team,” Jenkins said. “They helped elevate us to the next level and now we need to sustain and take the next step. The new car gives us a wonderful opportunity to do that.”
Next up in the lineup will be Todd Gilliland, who will compete for the NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year when he takes over the wheel of the No. 38 Ford Mustang. Running as a teammate to McDowell – one of the veterans of the sport – will help the young rookie learn the next car and how to make decisions that will put in the best position on the track and at the end of the race. Gilliland has run three full seasons in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and will have crew chief Seth Barbour on the box for him as he makes his way to Cup.
“I feel like I’ve found a home at FRM,” said Gilliland. “I’ve been around the team when I was growing up and watching my dad race. I joined the truck team here and it has been a good place for my career. I can’t wait to step up into the NASCAR Cup Series. I know the challenges ahead, but I’m planning to be here and help grow with this team for a long time.”
Jenkins said, “Todd has been a part of the FRM family before he even started his own racing career. We know that Todd is committed to helping our No. 38 program. He helped us launch our truck program into a winning team and that’s our goal for him and the 38 Cup team.”
And last but certainly not least, Zane Smith, two-time runner-up for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship, will return to the truck series but this time behind the wheel of FRM’s No. 38 F-150. For Smith, he ended the 2021 season not knowing if he had a ride in 2022. But with a talent like Smith raking up three wins and 27 Top 10s, it wasn’t long before that changed.
“I’ve been watching Zane the past few seasons,” said Jenkins. “He’s a young driver who is a proven winner and he shows a lot of promise. We want to get him that championship in 2022, but also, we want to have Zane with us for a long time. We see a bright future for him.”
Smith, 22, said he is well-aware of just how good the No. 38 truck is on the track because he has raced around it … a lot. The 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Most Popular Driver said he is ready for 2022.
“I competed against Front Row for wins this past season and I know how competitive the team is,” said Smith, the 2021 Most Popular Driver in the NASCAR Camping World Series. “Bob Jenkins has given me a wonderful opportunity to race for the truck series championship again. More importantly, there is an opportunity to grow with them in the future.”