Blake Harris named crew chief for Michael McDowell, No. 34 Ford

Blake Harris will serve as crew chief for Michael McDowell at Front Row Motorsports in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, it was announced Thursday.

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Harris, 34 years old and originally from Maypearl, Texas, will be a full-time crew chief for the first time as he fills the seat vacated by Drew Blickensderfer’s departure. According to the team’s news release, Harris’ resume also includes time at Evernham Motorsports, Furniture Row Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing, winning more than 25 races at NASCAR’s top level, along with the 2017 championship. Harris most recently worked with Martin Truex Jr. over the headset in 2020, when Truex finished runner-up at Texas Motor Speedway.

“Blake has proven to be a championship leader who is ready to take McDowell and our No. 34 team to the next level,” Front Row Motorsports general manager Jerry Freeze said in the release. “He’s young but has a wealth of knowledge and experience with one of the best teams in the NASCAR Cup Series. He played a key role in wins and a championship. Blake is the type of person we want to help us continue to contend.”

McDowell and the No. 34 crew won the 2021 Daytona 500, marking McDowell’s first career victory since making his NASCAR Cup Series debut in 2008. The veteran driver joined Front Row Motorsports in 2018. Over the course of his 393 overall starts, McDowell has produced the one win, five top fives and 17 top 10s. Last season was his best with the win, two top fives and five top 10s. He finished 16th in the final standings.

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Harris and McDowell will have their first taste of competition together with the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 20 (2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), as the No. 34 group looks to defend its crown-jewel title.