When Front Row first entered the Cup Series in the mid-2000s, its cars were so slow that they frequently failed to qualify for races. In 2007 FRM’s Kevin Lepage infamously had 27 DNQs (did not qualify) in 29 race attempts.
In 2013, FRM broke through with its first win when David Ragan made a late pass for the lead at Talladega, a drafting track in which equipment strength does not play as big of a role. The team still struggled to compete most weeks, though, and only had nine top-10 finishes as an organization through 2015.
Chris Buescher earned the team’s second win in 2016 in a weather-shortened race at Pocono, relying heavily on strategy to score the victory.
FRM seemed to gradually begin improving around this time, with drivers such as Buescher, McDowell, and David Ragan all infrequently able to put together solid performances.
Ever since 2020, though, the team has turned a major corner.
McDowell’s 2021 Daytona 500 win was unconvincing after race leaders Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski both crashed on the final lap, but FRM was capable by this point of having legitimate top-10 speed on more than just drafting tracks.
Up through 2019, FRM’s cars only finished in the top-10 19 times. In the four years since, the team has nearly tripled that number, with McDowell’s victory at Indianapolis marking the 37th such result since 2020. FRM also began fielding a Truck Series team in 2020, which won the 2022 series championship with Zane Smith.
As the competitive runs of McDowell, Smith, and Todd Gilliland became more and more frequent, FRM and its drivers began receiving some more attention as scrappy underdogs who consistently overachieved with their resources. It was no longer surprising for them to run near the front, and yet people still acted surprised when it happened.
It’s time to stop being surprised. Front Row Motorsports is officially a strong NASCAR Cup Series team, plain and simple.