NASCAR: Daytona 500 champion linked to new team for 2025

Michael McDowell is set to leave Front Row Motorsports after the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season, but he is not expected to retire.
Daytona 500, NASCAR
Daytona 500, NASCAR / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

2021 Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell announced on Wednesday that he will not return to Front Row Motorsports for what would have been an eighth NASCAR Cup Series season in 2025, leaving the No. 34 Ford without a confirmed driver after the current season concludes.

McDowell's run with the Bob Jenkins-owned team began back in 2018. He had been in the series since 2008, but he had only run one full season up until taking over behind the wheel of the No. 34 Ford.

His run with the team has seen him score the first two wins of his career, including the Daytona 500 in 2021 and last year's race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, which he dominated. Both wins resulted in playoff appearances, also the first two of his career.

The 2024 season has seen the 39-year-old Phoenix, Arizona native secure the first two pole positions of his career at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, adding yet another chapter to the rags to riches story for the former "start and park" driver.

New landing spot for Michael McDowell?

According to Fox Sports' Bob Pockrass, Spire Motorsports has already emerged as McDowell's most likely next landing spot.

UPDATE: McDowell's move to Spire Motorsports has been confirmed.

With the Jeff Dickerson and T.J. Puchyr-owned team currently fielding the No. 71 Chevrolet for Zane Smith, who is on loan from Trackhouse Racing Team, they are in position to add the veteran as they continue to try to climb their way up the Cup Series ranks.

They do own the charter used to field this entry after purchasing it for roughly $40 million from Live Fast Motorsports last year.

The team's other drivers are Corey LaJoie, who is on a multi-year contract to drive the No. 7 Chevrolet, and rookie Carson Hocevar, who has been particularly impressive so far behind the wheel of the No. 77 Chevrolet.

Should McDowell replace Smith, it remains to be seen what the Justin Marks and Pitbull-owned Trackhouse team have planned for his future.

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Ideally, they will find a way to secure a third charter and add him to their current roster, which consists of Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez. But Smith is a former Front Row Motorsports Truck Series driver and once had a contract containing option years with the organization that ran through 2026.