One of the most uplifting stories of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season was that of journeyman driver Michael McDowell, whose career-long perseverance paid off when he earned his first career win in the Daytona 500. With the title of Daytona 500 Champion forever his, McDowell will have a chance to defend his crown in 2022 with the same race team.
Front Row Motorsports has announced their driver lineup for the 2022 season, confirming that Michael McDowell will return as the driver of the team's flagship No. 34 Ford. McDowell, who will be 37 at the start of next season, returns for a fifth-straight year with Front Row.
McDowell will be joined by a new teammate in Todd Gilliland, 21, who moves up from Front Row's Camping World Truck Series team to run for Rookie of the Year as the new driver of the No. 38 Ford. Gilliland follows in the footsteps of father David Gilliland, who drove for Front Row from 2010 to 2015, mostly in the No. 38.
"I'm really looking forward to 2022 and the fresh start it brings across the sport," McDowell said in a statement released by the team. "It's an exciting time for the NASCAR Cup Series and for us at FRM. We have proven that we can win and now we want to find that consistency throughout the season to be even better."
A Cup Series driver since 2008 who worked his way up from start-and-park cars to driving for mid-level teams, McDowell enjoyed the best season of his career in 2021 after winning the Daytona 500. McDowell scored two Top 5 finishes and a career-best five Top 10 finishes, qualifying for the NASCAR playoffs en route to a career-best 16th-place finish in the final standings.
In his second season driving for Front Row's Truck Series team in 2021, Gilliland won at Circuit of the Americas and earned career-highs in Top 5s (10) and Top 10s (16) en route to a seventh-place finish in the final standings. Gilliland is the third Rookie of the Year candidate for the 2022 Cup Series season, joining Austin Cindric and Harrison Burton.