NASCAR driver loses full-time ride before 2023 season

Todd Gilliland, Front Row Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Todd Gilliland, Front Row Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Front Row Motorsports have announced that Todd Gilliland will not compete full-time throughout the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Front Row Motorsports announced in December that they were bringing back both Michael McDowell and Todd Gilliland for another NASCAR Cup Series season, with McDowell set for his sixth year behind the wheel of the No. 34 Ford and Gilliland set for his second behind the wheel of the No. 38 Ford.

Now it has been announced that Gilliland will not be competing full-time for a second straight season and that he will instead be sharing his car with reigning Truck Series champion Zane Smith.

Gilliland is still set to be the primary driver of the No. 38 Ford, with Smith, who is still competing full-time for Front Row Motorsports in the Truck Series, only set to drive it in six races.

Smith is set to compete in the Cup Series races at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, March 12; Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, April 23; Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 28; Sonoma Raceway on Sunday, June 11; Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, September 24; and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval on Sunday, October 8.

This announcement continues Front Row Motorsports’ trend of not running the same NASCAR Cup Series driver lineup two years in a row.

They have never done so since entering the Cup Series in 2004, and Smith is set to become the fifth different driver of the No. 38 Ford since 2019.

Smith is set to become McDowell’s sixth teammate since the 2021 Daytona 500 winner arrived at the Bob Jenkins-owned team back in 2018.

When it was announced last summer that Smith had signed an extension with Front Row Motorsports, it was confirmed that he would get to run a part-time Cup Series schedule. However, it was assumed that the team would be adding a third car for his races.

In fact, that is exactly what they are set to do for the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

Gilliland is set to drive the No. 38 Ford, while Smith is set to drive the No. 36 Ford, which hasn’t been used since the team ran a third entry for David Ragan back in the 2021 Daytona 500. Because the No. 36 Ford is a non-chartered entry, Smith is not locked into the race like Gilliland and McDowell are.

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Gilliland no longer competing full-time means that just 33 drivers are currently set to run all 36 races on the 2023 schedule. As a part-time driver, he will not be playoff eligible, even with a win, though he could still change that by landing an additional ride with another team to make himself a full-time driver again. The No. 38 team will remain eligible for the owner championship.