Michael McDowell returns to the No. 34, while Connecticut native Anthony Alfredo joins after a standout debut in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Front Row Motorsports announced its plans for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season on Wednesday. The low-budget team will retain veteran Michael McDowell for its No. 34 Ford, while Connecticut native Anthony Alfredo will take over its No. 38 machine. FRM will also run a third car, the No. 36, at the Daytona 500, which will be piloted by David Ragan.
Alfredo, 21, joins the team after a strong debut on the NASCAR Xfinity Series with Richard Childress Racing. John Hunter Nemechek drove the car last season, earning three top-ten finishes. Nemechek and FRM parted ways shortly after the 2020 season and will return to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to drive a Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Sharing the No. 21 Chevrolet with Myatt Snyder and Kaz Grala, Alfredo made 19 starts, finishing in the top 20 in all but four of them. He would save the best for last with a third-place finish at October’s Texas event, one of two postings in the top-five (the other being a fourth-place at Homestead in June). Despite running a part-time schedule, Alfredo finished 18th in last season’s Xfinity standings, second-best amongst those who did not a full-time slate (behind only Daniel Hemric one spot ahead). Alfredo also has experience with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports, finishing in the runner-up slot on the CARS Late Model Tour in 2017.
“This is really an unbelievable moment,” Alfredo said in a statement on NASCAR.com. “When you start out racing karts as a kid, you dream of making it to the sport’s top level. I want to thank Bob Jenkins and everyone at Front Row Motorsports for making this dream a reality. I know the challenges ahead, but I’m here to work hard and prove myself.”
Alfredo will compete for the Cup Series’ Rookie of the Year Award. He’s currently set to battle fellow 2020 Xfinity competitor Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford team for the title.
McDowell, 36, will return for his fourth season with FRM. Last season, he posted the best numbers of his Cup Series, earning a team-record four top-ten finishes and placing 23rd in the standings. Drew Blickensderfer will return for his third season as the No. 34’s crew chief.
“Michael has really solidified his place as our veteran leader,” team Bob Jenkins said in the statement. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that has helped us continue to grow our program.”
Ragan retired from full-time racing after the 2019 campaign but will run the season-opening Daytona 500 in an FRM machine for the second straight season. The 35-year-old brought home FRM’s first Cup Series victory in 2013 at Talladega and placed fourth in last season’s opener.
Debuting in 2005 and opening up full-time racing four years later, FRM has gained a reputation as one of NASCAR’s stronger low-budget teams. The team made a surprising appearance in the 2016 Cup Series playoffs, earning a spot when Chris Buescher won a rain-shortened race at Pocono.
In addition to their Cup Series reveals, FRM also announced that Todd Gilliland would return to his role in the team’s Truck Series entry. Gilliland, 20, earned four top-five finishes en route to a playoff appearance in the No. 38 truck last season. His father drove for Jenkins and FRM at the Cup level for six full seasons, notably sitting on the pole for the July 2014 race at Daytona and finishing second behind Ragan at the aforementioned Talladega triumph.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags