Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Front Row Motorsports Retains McDowell and Signs Nemechek

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

Front Row Motorsports announced Thursday its 2020 NASCAR Cup Series lineup as they’ll once again become a two-car stable with drivers Michael McDowell and John Hunter Nemechek driving the Bob Jenkins owned Ford Mustangs.

Nemechek became the fifth driver that’ll compete for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the sport’s highest level. Christopher Bell, Cole Custer, Brennan Poole and Tyler Reddick are the other four fighting for the award.

The 22-year-old will replace the recently retired David Ragan in the No. 38 Ford after impressing the team during the final three races of 2019 when he filled in for Matt Tifft, who opted to not continue his deal with the team due to health issues that kept him out of the ride.

Prior to filling in for Tifft, Nemechek spent his 2019 driving for GMS Racing in the Xfinity Series, finishing seventh in points after scoring six top-fives and 19 top-10s. GMS will not field a NXS team as they’ll be fully concentrating their efforts in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series and ARCA.

Nemechek said he’s excited to see what he can continue bringing to the table after finishing inside the top-30 in all three races with a 21st place run at Texas being his best thus far.

“I’m thrilled for the opportunity to drive for Bob Jenkins and Front Row Motorsports,” Nemechek said. “Having driven the last three races with this team in 2019, I feel like we already have a foundation to start the 2020 season. I’m looking forward to continuing to build FRM.”

Jenkins also believes Nemechek can accomplish a lot at FRM in 2020.

“We are looking to the future with a young talent like John Hunter Nemechek,” Jenkins said. “John Hunter impressed us at the end of last season, he comes from a racing family, and he’s a winning driver. We believe that we can grow with him in the years to come.”

McDowell will enter his third season driving the No. 34 Ford, hoping to improve from his 27th points finish after scoring two fifth-place finishes in the Daytona 500 and fall Talladega race, marking the 12-year veteran’s first season with multiple top-fives.

The 34-year-old Texan will also keep Drew Blickensderfer as his crew chief, commenting the No. 34 team has built momentum each season and it’ll be no different in 2020.

“As an organization, we have made a lot of strides with the help of all our partners of our program,” McDowell said. “I’m ready to build on that momentum with Drew and the rest of our team. We’ve always had steady growth and I think we’re going to continue to see that next season.”

Jenkins said McDowell has helped build the team that’ll be entering its 12th full season and a guy who can help Nemechek as his team are hungry for their first win since Ragan six years ago.

“Michael is a veteran leader who is determined to win in the Cup Series,” Jenkins said. “He gives our organization the experience we need to continue to get better. Most importantly, both Michael and John Hunter also fit our team values and are tremendous assets to our partners on-and-off the track.”

Partnerships that will support FRM will be announced at later dates.

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. He's also covered Idaho Athletics and high school football as both a writer and videographer. Additionally, he spent 2017 writing several racing columns as an independent journalist. Luis does video and photography, and is a fan of Seattle sports, a music critic and a motivator who wants to impact people's lives.