Front Row Motorsports sets 2022 driver lineup

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Front Row Motorsports set its 2022 driver lineup on Tuesday for its two NASCAR Cup Series teams and one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team.

On the Cup side, Michael McDowell will return to pilot the No. 34 Ford, while Todd Gilliland will move up to run the No. 38 Ford in 2022. With Gilliland moving up, Zane Smith will join the fold to run the No. 38 Ford in the Truck ranks.

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The 2022 season will mark McDowell’s fifth straight full-time season with the team. He is coming off a 2021 season that saw him score his first Cup victory in the Daytona 500, make the NASCAR Playoffs for the first time, finish a career-best 16th in the standings and post a career high in top-10 finishes. The upcoming season will be McDowell’s 15th in the Cup Series. The veteran driver drove the organization’s Next Gen car earlier this month at the Charlotte oval test.

“I’m really looking forward to 2022 and the fresh start it brings across the sport,” McDowell said in a team release. “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.”

Gilliland moves up to the Cup ranks after two seasons driving trucks for the Bob Jenkins-owned organization and reaching the Truck Playoffs in both of those seasons. He had previously driven nearly two full-time seasons for Kyle Busch Motorsports. All told, he has two wins in the Truck Series. He will jump to the Cup ranks having made no starts in the Xfinity Series, and the 2022 Daytona 500 will mark his Cup debut.

The 21-year-old will compete for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in a class that also includes fellow Ford drivers Austin Cindric (No. 2 Team Penske) and Harrison Burton (No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing). Gilliland marks the fourth straight rookie teammate for McDowell — Matt Tifft in 2019, John Hunter Nemechek in 2020 and Anthony Alfredo in 2021. David Ragan was part of a three-car lineup in ’19 as well. Alfredo and the team parted ways earlier this month following the season finale at Phoenix.

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“I feel like I’ve found a home at FRM,” Gilliland said. “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.”

In Smith, Front Row adds a driver that has made two straight Championship 4 appearances (the only driver to do that over that span) and one that has been the runner-up finisher in the standings in each of the last two seasons. In two seasons with GMS Racing, the 22-year-old nabbed three wins in the series.

“I competed against Front Row for wins this past season and I know how competitive the team is,” Smith said. “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.”