NASCAR driver loses full-time ride, then gets it back

Todd Gilliland, Front Row Motorsports, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Todd Gilliland, Front Row Motorsports, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports /

While he won’t compete in every race for Front Row Motorsports, Todd Gilliland is once again a full-time driver for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Last month at this time, Todd Gilliland was set to compete full-time throughout the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, driving the No. 38 Ford for Front Row Motorsports.

A lot has changed in the last month, yet Gilliland, who competed in both of the season’s first two events, is indeed set to compete full-time for a second consecutive season.

Shortly before the 2023 season began, Front Row Motorsports announced that Gilliland would be sharing the No. 38 Ford with reigning Truck Series champion Zane Smith, who still competes full-time in the Truck Series for the Bob Jenkins-owned organization.

Smith, who drove a third car for the team in the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway to open up the season, is set to make his first start behind the wheel of the No. 38 Ford at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, March 12.

He is also set to replace Gilliland in the races at 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.

Now without a ride for one-sixth of the 2023 calendar, Gilliland immediately began trying to change that.

While he didn’t totally fill his calendar for those six events, he was able to land another ride with Rick Ware Racing. He is set to pilot the No. 15 Ford in five of the six, with Riley Herbst having already been confirmed as the car’s driver for the race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Now Gilliland is officially a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver again — and thanks to Front Row Motorsports, interestingly enough.

Like they did for Smith for the Daytona 500, Front Row Motorsports have added a third entry to their lineup for the race at Talladega Superspeedway, this time for Gilliland.

The move makes sense on many levels. First of all, Front Row Motorsports have added a third entry before, and for a race in which it wasn’t even guaranteed a starting spot. The only way Gilliland isn’t locked into the field at Talladega Superspeedway is if the entry list ends up featuring more than 40 cars.

Secondly, Gilliland’s top oval finish, seventh place, during his rookie season came at Talladega Superspeedway last October. Superspeedway races are often known as wild card/equalizer-type races, and Gilliland has proven that he is capable of contending in them.

And finally, it’s just one race. While it may seem ironic that Front Row Motorsports are adding an extra car for a driver they effectively just dropped for this particular event, this race was the only race in which Gilliland did not have a ride, following his new Rick Ware Racing deal.

This was the one race he needed to add to retain full-time driver status — and more importantly, playoff eligibility.

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

Gilliland sits in 21st place in the point standings with finishes of 27th and 17th through two races this year.