Michael McDowell announces Front Row departure as NASCAR Silly Season begins

Charters and race seats will be shuffled in advance of 2025

Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

And thus falls the first domino of what is expected to be a robust NASCAR Silly Season as Michael McDowell confirmed on Wednesday that this would be his final season at Front Row Motorsports.

All indication is that he will move to Spire Motorsports next season, but again, this is an adjacent move to several others happening behind the scenes.

McDowell has won twice over the past seven seasons driving the Front Row Motorsports No. 34. He won the 2021 Daytona 500 and on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last summer.

“Rest assured, there’s still a lot of racing left this season, and I’m fully committed to doing whatever it takes to get FRM another win and another playoff berth,” McDowell said in a statement posted to social media. “We’re not slowing down until the checkered flag flies in Phoenix.“I look forward to continue driving for many years to come and can’t wait to share my future plans with you all soon.”

The 39-year-old has made 228 of his 477 Cup starts with the team.

“Over half of my NASCAR Cup Series starts have been made under the FRM banner, and I’m thankful for each and every one of them,” McDowell added. “With that being said, my family and I have made the bittersweet decision that it’s time for us to embark on the next chapter of our motorsports journey, making 2024 my final season as the driver of the No. 34 Ford Mustang Dark Horse for Front Row Motorsports.”

In his own statement, Front Row Motorsports team owner Bob Jenkins praised McDowell for all of his contributions on track and behind the scenes.

“We thank Michael for all he has done during his time as a driver at Front Row Motorsports. His 2021 Daytona 500 victory, a dominant win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and two appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs set a new standard for our organization.“

He became the leader of his team and the organization. Outside the car, he was the model for a driver we want to represent us and our partners.

“We’re sad to see Michael leave, but wish him, Jami and his family nothing but the best as he moves on to another chapter of what is already an incredible racing career.”

Spire currently has Zane Smith in its 71 entry but he is under a one-year loan from Trackhouse Racing.

There will be a lot of movement this summer as Stewart-Haas Racing is making charters available for purchase. In fact, its entire building and operation is said to be on the market as well.

Front Row inked a Tier 1 manufacturer alliance with Ford before the start of this season and Stewart-Haas does not have one in advance of next season.

Rodney Childers, crew chief of the No. 4 team, says his group is good at avoiding the distractions that come with this dynamic.

“I think no matter what, if there are rumors, there’s always gonna be a distraction,” Childers said. “Everybody on this 4 team came here to build something special. We came here to win races. We came here to win a championship, to sit on poles, to do a lot of cool things and we’ve all done that.

“That’s all we can hang our hats on at the moment is to go out there and be our best every week, to be somebody that the garage looks up to and thinks a lot of.

“I told my guys that if we continue to do that, that’s all that really matters to us. All of the stuff in the background is gonna happen whether we want it to or not, or it’s not gonna happen whether we want to or not, so, for me, it’s just trying to stay focused, trying to stay positive and keep moving forward.”

Trackhouse, 23XI Racing and Front Row are all in the market for charters and McDowell’s move will be the first of many.

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