McDowell Runs Inside Top-10 and Gilliland Races Smart Race

Front Row Motorsports (FRM) started their West Coast swing with a 400-mile race at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California- the first race at the track in two seasons.

After a strong performance in Daytona, Michael McDowell and the No. 34 Stage Front Tickets Ford Mustang team backed it up with a fast car on Sunday. McDowell was running inside the top-10 in the final laps before mechanical issues under the hood left the team dejected with a 31st-place result.

Todd Gilliland and the No. 38 Frontline Enterprises Ford team used consistency to gradually improve positions all afternoon. Gilliland finished 20th at the checkered flag.


Coming off another top-10 Daytona 500 finish, Michael McDowell and team were ready to tackle the challenge of Auto Club Speedway, as well as the conditions it provided.

Having learned much from practice and qualifying, the team was able to dial in the car going into Sunday’s race. With many drivers having issues during Saturday’s practice and qualifying, McDowell took the time to tune on the Stage Front Ford Mustang’s handling, and translate it into a good starting position.

The Stage Front No. 34 team fought tooth-and-nail all afternoon long, and what started as a methodical day, began to progress forward later in the race. Starting just outside the top 20, McDowell quickly advanced into the top-15. As the stages came and went, so did multiple cautions. This provided an opportunity to refine the car and get it dialed into what the track was giving in return. Fighting with a car that was transitioning between loose and tight, crew chief Blake Harris made exactly the right calls to have McDowell positioned to be a contender in the final stage.

That is when the Stage Front Tickets Ford was at its best. McDowell raced inside the top-10 with 10 to go. Unfortunately, an electrical issue struck, with the car swapping between power and no power. McDowell had to take the car behind the wall and finished 31st.

“It’s a real shame. The Stage Front Tickets Ford Mustang was lightning quick, and it’s a real bummer we didn’t finish how we should have. We were in such a good spot on the last restart, and the car really took off in the late running. I think we really showed how great this Next Gen car is and how we can compete up there with the top guys, so there is definitely a lot to look forward to.”


Saturday and Sunday were a weekend of firsts for rookie Todd Gilliland. It was his first start at Auto Club, and for the Next Gen car, its first visit to an intermediate track. Having learned much from Saturday practice into qualifying, there was excitement for the driver and team going into Sunday’s race.

Gilliland and the No. 38 team had a strategy for the first two stages- learn the car, click off laps, and work on the handling heading into the final stage. The Frontline Enterprises Ford Mustang team did just that. While the results in the early running didn’t show the speed the car had, the handling became better with each run. What started off tight, ended loose- and loose is fast at an intermediate track.

The final stage, thanks to a couple timely cautions as well as great incident avoidance, Gilliland was able to work his way into the top-20 within 15 laps to go. Pushing the car to its limits and racing hard with some of the earlier top-running competitors, Gilliland was able to finish in the 20th position.

“The entire Frontline Enterprises team worked their tails off all day to get our car at its best at the end. I learned a lot and did everything I could to make the best of the changes we made throughout the race. The whole thing was about not making mistakes while capitalizing on ones made by our competitors, and I think we did just that. I’m glad to leave Auto Club with a top-20 finish, and I really can’t wait to get to Las Vegas and do it all over again next week”

Front Row Motorsports (FRM) is a winning organization in the NASCAR Cup and Camping World Truck Series and the 2021 Daytona 500 champions. The team was founded in 2004 and is owned by successful entrepreneur, Bob Jenkins. FRM fields the No. 34 and the No. 38 NASCAR Cup Series teams along with the No. 38 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team– from its Mooresville, N.C. headquarters. Visit and follow FRM on social media: Twitter at @Team_FRM, Instagram at @team_frm and Facebook at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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