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January 27, 2023

2023 season preview: Front Row Motorsports

Michael McDowell drives during a 2022 race
Jonathan Bachman
Getty Images

Editor’s Note: Today’s Front Row Motorsports preview continues’s countdown of team previews for the 2023 Cup Series season, ranked in reverse order of best finish in last year’s owner standings.


Manufacturer: Ford
Engine: Roush Yates
Driver-crew chief pairings: Michael McDowell-Travis Peterson (No. 34), Todd Gilliland-Ryan Bergenty (No. 38).

RELATED: McDowell, Gilliland return to Front Row Motorsports driver lineup in 2023

Team outlook: Front Row Motorsports has all the ingredients for success, and 2023 should be a better season than 2022. This will be the 19th season in the Cup Series for the organization. It has made the Cup playoffs just twice: Chris Buescher in 2016 (finished last in the 16-car field) and Michael McDowell in 2021 (also finished last in the 16-car field). The team – especially McDowell – has improved significantly over the last couple of years, particularly in 2022 when the man known as “Big Mac” recorded a career- and team-best 12 top-10 finishes. If the new driver-crew chief combos mesh well, there is no reason not to think that at least one – if not both – of the two FRM cars make the playoffs in 2023.


Experience: 11th full-time season in NASCAR Cup Series.
2022 stats: 23rd in final standings; 0 wins, 2 top fives, 12 top 10s
2023 championship odds (BetMGM): 350-1

Outlook: Even though he didn’t make the playoffs like he did the year before, McDowell – the veteran of 429 career Cup starts with one win, seven top-five and 29 top-10 finishes – had his best season ever in Cup from an overall performance perspective when it comes to race finishes. Sure, he didn’t get a win, and his 23rd-place showing in the final standings looks somewhat mediocre, but his 12 top-10 finishes (he’s never had more than five top-10 finishes in a season before) says a lot about how strong this team can be. It just needs a little more luck and potentially a different (and maybe more aggressive) pit strategy from new crew chief Travis Peterson. McDowell is always a threat to win at superspeedways like Daytona and Talladega and is one of the more underrated road course drivers. The 38-year-old Arizona native could be one of the biggest sleepers this season, provided his team keeps him on the right track.

RELATED: Front Row hires Travis Peterson as No. 34 crew chief, shuffles personnel


Experience: 2nd full-time season in NASCAR Cup Series.
2022 stats: 28th in final standings; 0 wins, 1 top five, 2 top 10s
2023 championship odds (BetMGM): 1,000-1

Outlook: Gilliland had a difficult rookie season in the Cup Series in 2022, earning just one top-five finish and two top 10s. That’s not totally unusual, given the fact he jumped from the Truck Series (where he earned three wins, 27 top-five and 53 top-10 finishes in 94 starts) directly to Cup, bypassing more seasoning in the Xfinity Series. He was a poor qualifier (27.5 average start) and was a mid-pack finisher most of the season (23.2 average finish). Admittedly, 2022 was a learning year for the son of former NASCAR driver David Gilliland. And while NASCAR Cup historically has a rough outlook for drivers in their sophomore seasons, it’s very possible Gilliland can improve and finish the season in the top 20. It’s unlikely he’ll make the playoffs, but improvement would definitely appear to be on the menu.

Editor’s note (Feb. 9, 2023): It was recently announced that Gilliland would no longer be competing in the full season driving the No. 38 FRM entry in the Cup Series. While Gilliland is slated to remain the primary driver for the team, the previous statistical and performance-based outlook did not have the relevant information to take this into account. 2023 team previews schedule

Jan. 23: Non-chartered and teams outside the top 30
Jan. 24: Spire Motorsports
Jan. 25: Wood Brothers Racing
Jan. 26: JTG Daugherty Racing
Jan. 27: Front Row Motorsports
Jan. 30: Kaulig Racing
Jan. 31: RFK Racing
Feb. 1: Legacy Motor Club
Feb. 2: Richard Childress Racing
Feb. 7: 23XI Racing
Feb. 8: Stewart-Haas Racing
Feb. 9: Joe Gibbs Racing
Feb. 10: Hendrick Motorsports
Feb. 13: Trackhouse Racing
Feb. 14: Team Penske