By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
For the first time since Brendan Gaughan in 2004, a former West Series champion will compete in the NASCAR Cup Series full-time. That man being two-time West champion Todd Gilliland, who’ll make the leap from the Camping World Truck Series to the sport’s top level in 2022.
The third-generation racer will continue his tenure at Front Row Motorsports. Only this time, he’ll be accompanied by a teammate in Michael McDowell.
As part of the Gilliland family tradition, Todd will pilot the No. 38 Ford Mustang. Much like his father David (2006-08, 2010, 2012-15) and grandfather Butch (1995, 1997, 1999) did in their Cup careers.
In his two years in FRM’s Truck Series program, Gilliland made the playoffs twice, scoring a combined total of 14 top-fives and 26 top-10s. The biggest highlight being his second career win at Circuit of the Americas this past May.
Gilliland described the move to the top national level as a continuation of feeling home with the organization.
“I feel like I’ve found a home at FRM,” said Gilliland in a press release. “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.”
Team owner Bob Jenkins hopes Gilliland can make the No. 38 team into a proven contender. More so with the Next Gen machines debuting this coming season.
“Todd has been a part of the FRM family before he even started his own racing career,” said Jenkins. “We know that Todd is committed to helping our No. 38 program. He helped us launch our truck program into a winning team and that’s our goal for him and the 38 Cup team.”
The 21-year-old has a multi-year deal, breaking the rookie musical chairs FRM has dealt with. This upcoming season will mark the team’s fourth rookie driving one of their Mustangs in as many years. Anthony Alfredo ended up 30th in the 2021 standings with a single top-10 at the fall Talladega race to his resume.
Before Alfredo, Matt Tifft (2019) and John Hunter Nemechek (2020) were a part of the organization. Health issues plagued Tifft’s racing career and hasn’t raced since his rookie year. Nemechek moved on from FRM and headed to Kyle Busch Motorsports, missing out on the 2021 Truck Series title.
With Gilliland moving up to Cup, Zane Smith will take over the No. 38 Ford F-150. Smith finished runner-up in the championship the past two straight seasons with GMS Racing.