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May 8, 2024

Michael McDowell to leave FRM, drive Spire Motorsports’ No. 71 in 2025


Michael McDowell smiles on pit road ahead of a NASCAR Cup Series race.
Meg Oliphant
Getty Images

In a double dose of news Wednesday, Michael McDowell announced he will leave Front Row Motorsports after the NASCAR Cup Series season to join Spire Motorsports’ No. 71 team on a multiyear deal in 2025.

McDowell, 39, makes the move after spending each of the last seven seasons driving the No. 34 Ford for the Bob Jenkins-owned team, winning the 2021 Daytona 500 and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2023.

RELATED: McDowell through the years | Cup Series schedule

“This is a new chapter for my family and me, and we’re incredibly thankful for the opportunity that’s in front of us,” McDowell said in a Spire release. “It’s going to take some hard work, but I feel like everything is in place for us to be successful as a race team — to win races and contend for championships. People are the greatest asset to any organization, and with Spire’s vision, ambition, knowledge, and dedication, we will achieve great things. Failure is not an option, and that’s the mindset that it will take to achieve our goals.”

Front Row released its own statement, thanking McDowell for his time with the No. 34 FRM team.

By taking over the No. 71 Chevrolet, McDowell is set to replace rookie Zane Smith. Smith’s signing was announced last September, with his multiyear contract managed by Trackhouse Racing. No plans for Smith’s future have been announced at this time.

A native of Phoenix, Arizona, McDowell has made 477 starts in the Cup Series. Next season, McDowell is set to team up with Corey LaJoie and rookie Carson Hocevar, both of whom last year signed multiyear deals for 2024 and beyond. LaJoie has made 248 Cup starts and Hocevar 21.

“Michael McDowell is a proven winner and brings a NASCAR Playoff pedigree,” said Spire Motorsports president Doug Duchardt in a team release. “Michael has always been committed to elevate his teams. His experience and enthusiasm are a perfect fit for Spire Motorsports, and we are sure he will be a great teammate to both Carey LaJoie and Carson Hocevar. We’re thrilled to keep up the positive momentum by adding someone as accomplished as Michael to our driver lineup.

“Our 2024 plan for the No. 71 team remains unchanged. Spire Motorsports fully supports Zane Smith and (crew chief) Stephan Doran. We remain committed to the success of our collaboration with Trackhouse. That team is just beginning to realize its potential. We’re looking forward to seeing how the Rookie of the Year battle plays out between Zane and Carson.”

McDowell has competed in the Cup Series since 2008, beginning his career with Michael Waltrip Racing, driving the No. 00 Toyota on a part-time basis before other abbreviated stints with Tommy Baldwin Racing and Phil Parsons Racing.

He then joined Leavine Family Racing in 2014, driving the No. 95 car through the majority of the 2014-16 seasons before competing on a full-time basis in 2017.

In addition to his Cup experience, McDowell has one win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, driving the No. 2 Chevrolet to Victory Lane for Richard Childress Racing in 2016 at Road America.

McDowell finished 10th last weekend at Kansas Speedway and is 26th in the Cup Series points standings.

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