2022 FRM Daytona 500 Race Report

Front Row Motorsports (FRM) wraps up six exciting days in Daytona, FL, with the team leaving with a strong showing in both the NASCAR Cup Series, as well as the NASCAR Truck Series.
FRM, coming off a record breaking year, is poised to show that it can contend for top ten finishes on a weekly basis and write more history in 2022. Those efforts showed this past weekend.
Zane Smith joined FRM for the 2022 season, bringing with him multiple wins and two consecutive second place points finishes in the NASCAR Truck Series. Combine that with the championship contending No. 38 Love’s Travel Stops | Cargill Ford F-150 team led by Crew Chief Chris Lawson, the team is an instant favorite. That was shown Friday night at Daytona.
Starting in 20th, Zane wasted no time fighting through the pack, passing trucks at every opportunity to put himself in contention to be in the lead fight going into the stage breaks. By the end of Stage One, he had navigated to the sixth position, earning himself five stage/playoff points. Playing the strategy game by pitting for fuel, meant Zane would drop back, but play through to Stage Two, where he would be in the thick of things in the final stage.
Starting the final stage in the top five, the No. 38 Love’s | Cargill Ford F-150 was sitting in third for the remainder of the night, saving fuel and equipment for the final handful of laps.
Smith’s patience, quick reactions, and knowledge of the draft showed, as an avoided wreck, followed by an overtime finish, ultimately ended with Zane in victory lane in his first start with FRM.
“This place is something else, I can tell you that. Literally my heart hurt after that red flag, but this is so cool to see all the hard work the team has put into the off-season paying off here with this win. It’s so cool to get Love’s back in victory lane, and I can’t wait to make this a record season.”
Defending Daytona 500 Champion Michael McDowell returned to Daytona with an incredible finishing record at the famed race, looking to make it back to back wins at the biggest race of the year. Showing speed in every practice session, and being in contention to win his Thursday Duel, the team had significant momentum leading up to the green flag.
Starting sixth, McDowell quickly showed that he was going to be a factor in the race and wasted no time in advancing, and holding station in the top five for most of the first stage. However, when the racing began to get dicey, the team played it safe, knowing that having the car in one piece at the end meant having a chance at a second Harley J Earl Trophy.
Avoiding multiple wrecks, saving fuel at each stage break and drafting with both teammate Todd Gilliland and Ford manufacturer teammates, meant McDowell would run inside the top ten virtually all race. While stage points did not materialize in order keep the car clean, the No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang ran inside the top ten, and was in the hunt for the trophy at the end of the final stage.
Avoiding a wreck inside ten to go, and restarting inside the top ten, put everything in place to make a back to back win possible. Unfortunately, as the remaining few laps unfolded, there was no room to advance as the racing became tighter than before, boxing McDowell in where he was. Crossing the line in the seventh position proved to be a great points day, and another top ten in the Daytona 500. However, after the start/finish line, a car clipped McDowell’s right rear, sending him hard into the wall before entering turn 1. Michael climbed out of the car safe and is ready to move on to Auto Club next weekend.
“What a day, and what a speedweeks that was. Our Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang was fast all week, and that really showed in a big way. Blake and all the crew did an amazing job to put this car together, and calculated a great race to get us in contention to win at the end. We had a shot, but just needed to be a couple sports further up on that last restart to get into the mix. I’m so proud of my team and cant thank them, Ford Performance, and Roush Yates Engines enough.”
Todd Gilliland showed great speed all weekend, like his teammate McDowell. In his first points start, and first start in the “Great American Race”, he wanted to show the sport that he is set to make a splash in the Cup Series, as he did in the Truck Series.
He followed suit with his teammate, playing strategy and advancing position through speed and grit. Starting 29th, Todd and crew chief Seth Barbour capitalized on timely cautions to advance into the top ten, but after multiple restarts, showed speed and quickly passed his competitors to capture stage a large amount of stage points, finishing third in Stage One, and tenth in Stage Two. It was a hard task to advance as much as he did, but the No. 38 First Phase Card Ford Mustang was in the mix all day, sitting firmly in the top five as well as top ten throughout the entirety of the race.
Running inside the top ten with not many laps in the race, Todd was a factor in the end, and did well avoiding incidents all race. He nearly avoided the last incident of the night, but like his teammate, was clipped in the right rear and sent into the outside wall, ending his chance at a win in his first points paying start. However, showing that the second generation driver has a bright future ahead of him.
“We had a great car, an amazing strategy, and I can’t thank everyone enough for all the hard work put into our FirstPhaseCard.com Ford Mustang. I think we had a real shot at the end, and our run today really showed the speed we have going into the year. It stinks that our race ended the way it did, but that’s just how it goes at tracks like this. We will focus on the season ahead, and get after it next week out west.”