Front Row Motorsports have revealed their 2021 NASCAR Cup and Camping World Truck Series drivers. While a duo of familiar faces in Michael McDowell and Todd Gilliland return to their full-time Cup and Truck seats, the former will be joined by a Cup newcomer in Anthony Alfredo, and David Ragan will also rejoin the team for the Daytona 500. FRM will continue racing with Ford.
Alfredo moves up to the Cup Series with a rather limited résumé. The 2018 NASCAR Next member has never raced full-time in either the Truck or Xfinity Series, running thirteen Truck races in 2019 followed by a nineteen-race Xfinity schedule in 2020 (the sum of his national series starts is thirty-two, four fewer than the number of races in a full Cup season). The latter year, which he spent sharing the #21 Richard Childress Racing car with Myatt Snider and Kaz Grala, saw him score nine top-ten finishes, two top fives, and a best finish of third in his final start at Texas.
His thirteen Truck starts in 2019, all with recently-renamed David Gilliland Racing, ended with two top tens and a best run of eighth at Charlotte. He finished fifth in what is now the ARCA Menards Series East standings the previous year with a win and nine top tens in fourteen races.
“This is really an unbelievable moment,” Alfredo stated. “When you start out racing karts as a kid, you dream of making it to the sport’s top level. I want to thank Bob Jenkins and everyone at Front Row Motorsports for making this dream a reality. I know the challenges ahead, but I’m here to work hard and prove myself.”
Alfredo moves into the #38 Ford Mustang and will vie for Rookie of the Year honours. He is the third full-time driver in the car in as many years as he replaces John Hunter Nemechek, who departed the team after one season for the Truck Series. Ragan piloted the car in his final full-time season in 2019.
“We met Anthony and spent time with him when last season ended,” said team owner Jenkins. “We wanted another young driver and someone that fit well into our team. We feel that Anthony is a great match and we look forward to this season together.”
“Today I fulfill a childhood dream and announce that I am going to compete full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series,” wrote a statement from Alfredo on social media. “I am experiencing a tremendous amount of emotions and I’m sure it still hasn’t fully set in yet. All I can say is thank you to Front Row Motorsports and our partners for believing in me, along with all of my fans for sticking by my side throughout this off-season. I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to continue pursuing a career in my passion, now in the premier series of our sport, and be surrounded by incredible people. There is so much to be excited about this upcoming season, especially racing every week and gaining valuable experience at the highest level of stock car racing. I’ve never been more determined to prove myself and make everyone who believes in me proud. See you all at Daytona”.
Serving as Alfredo’s team-mate is McDowell, who returns to the #34 for his third season in the car. 2020 marked McDowell’s best statistical season as he recorded four top tens and a career-high twenty-third in the standings. Since joining FRM in 2018, he has accumulated seven top tens and two top fives-both more than his career totals in those categories up to that point-with a best finish of fifth on two occasions.
“Despite all of its challenges, our 2020 season was one of the best in FRM history,” McDowell commented. “I feel like we’ve really been able to hit our stride and I’m excited to channel that momentum into a new season.”
McDowell will surely be excited for the influx of road courses on the 2021 Cup schedule. A former Champ Car driver and Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona podium finisher, he scored his first NASCAR win at Road America in 2016 as a one-off Xfinity driver. The Wisconsin track is among the new tracks on the Cup calendar as the premier series will visit a record seven road courses.
“Michael has really solidified his place as our veteran leader,” Jenkins added. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that has helped us continue to grow our program.”
With the exception of a two-year stint with Toyota teams in 2015 and 2016, Ragan has spent his entire Cup career in the Ford stable. In 2013, his second year with FRM, he led a team 1–2 finish alongside David Gilliland at Talladega for one of the Cup Series’ biggest upset wins in the Gen-6 era.
A former Daytona race winner, Ragan established himself as a solid superspeedway racer, which included top tens in three of four such races in 2017 and two Cup wins at one. He retired from full-time Cup action after the 2019 season and eased into testing duties for Ford Performance, but returned for the 2020 Daytona 500 in an FRM partnership with Rick Ware Racing. The race saw him finish fourth for his best career 500 result. Ragan also ran two Truck races for David Gilliland Racing, then known as DGR-Crosley, with a seventh-place finish at Richmond.
As with RWR in 2020, Ragan will drive the #36 Mustang in the 500.
“Can’t tell you how happy and thrilled I am to be headed back to the Daytona 500, to try to improve on that fourth-place finish last year. Just a few more spots and we’ll try to take that trophy home,” Ragan said in a video. “So happy to be driving for Front Row Motorsports in a Ford Mustang. The Daytona 500: such a special race, such an important race for all of motorsports all over the world. To be headed back there in the Select Blinds Ford Mustang is going to be a lot of fun.”
Gilliland’s son Todd returns to FRM for a second season in the #38 Ford F-150. In 2020, the two-time ARCA West champion débuted FRM’s Truck team with a tenth-place points finish, ten top tens, four top fives, and a best run of fourth on three occasions.
“Our debut season in the Truck Series with Todd was very successful,” said Jenkins. “We qualified for the Playoffs and had some great runs throughout the year. We’re excited to continue those accomplishments into the future.”
“I’m thrilled to return to Front Row Motorsports next year,” Gilliland stated. “Bob has been great to drive for and we’ve got a solid foundation to build up our program moving forward.”