The crew chiefs for both Front Row Motorsports cars — the No. 34 Ford of Michael McDowell and the No. 38 Ford of Anthony Alfredo — have been ejected before Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway (7 p.m. ET on NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), and both cars will drop to the rear before the 160-lap race. In addition, the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Kyle Larson and the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet of Corey LaJoie will start from the rear for multiple pre-race inspection failures.
Front Row Motorsports crew chiefs Drew Blickensderfer (No. 34) and Seth Barbour (No. 38) were ejected after pre-race inspection penalties. McDowell was slated to start 18th, while Alfredo was set to start 32nd. McDowell won the Daytona 500 in February and is one of three drivers with top 10s in both superspeedway races this year.
Jason Sheets, car chief for the No. 34, will fill in as McDowell’s crew chief, while competition director Derrick Finley will serve as Alfredo’s crew chief, according to the team.
The ejections came after it was found the cars did not conform to NASCAR rule specifications per: Rule 126.96.36.199.a and b. Those rules deal with the deck lid extensions teams can use as A.) only NASCAR-approved deck lid extensions will be permitted and B.) the deck lid must conform to the drawing supplied by NASCAR.
The No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet of Joey Gase (starting 37th) and the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet of Kaz Grala (starting 38th) will also go to the rear after multiple pre-race inspection failures.
Larson had been slated to start from the pole in Saturday’s race and will still be credited as the polesitter. He is locked in a battle for the regular-season championship and enters the final race of the regular season with a 28-point lead over Denny Hamlin.
“Our strategy is kind of just to chill out and get to the finish,” Larson told media during a pre-race availability as he seeks his first top five in 15 Daytona starts. “Having to start from the pole sometimes can get sketchy when you’re trying to shuffle your way to the back, so having to start from the rear is not really a big deal to me as long as we can pass this time.”
Contributing: Zack Albert