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Indianapolis Race Recap

Smith Finishes Third at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Thriller

Gilliland Scores First NASCAR Cup Series Top-Five Finish

McDowell Earns Ninth Top-10 Result

 

Front Row Motorsports (FRM) competed at both the Indianapolis Raceway Park (IRP) and the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) this past weekend. It was a history making weekend for the organization with all three teams starting and finishing in the top-10. Smith and Gilliland finished in the top-five. It's the best results for FRM since the expansion to the truck team.


Action began Friday night at the short track, IRP, with the No. 38 Boot Barn NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. Zane Smith began his playoff run with a thrilling third-place finish.


Todd Gilliland and the No. 38 Ruedebusch Development and Construction team finished in the top-five on Sunday. Gilliland finished fourth to earn his first top-five NASCAR Cup Series result.


Michael McDowell and the No. 34 Horizon Hobby team finished eighth after racing in the top-10 the majority of the day.

Smith and the No. 38 Boot Barn team came into Friday night's race as the top seed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs. After receiving their regular season championship trophy, the team went to work on the track.


In front of an energetic crowd and many partners, Smith used long run speed to make his way to the top-10 at the end of the first stage. Even better in Stage Two, and after a great pit stop by the Boot Barn team, Smith jumped to fifth.


At the end of the stage, Smith made contact with another truck and then the wall. The team had to pit for repairs to the rear and the bed of the truck. Repairs made, the team gave Smith a truck that he raced back into the top-10 in the closing laps.


Then, the caution came out setting up two green-white-checkered finishes. As the field came in for fresh tires, the Boot Barn team stayed out and Smith used the first restart to battle for the lead. He took the lead, but it was determined the caution came out before he completed the pass.


The final restart, Smith grabbed the lead again. On older tires, Smith lost the lead and finished third. Smith retained the top spot in the playoff points.


The team has now replicated its mark from last year with 10 top-five finishes in a season.

“It's hard to race these guys clean at the end," said Smith. "You try, but I feel that I would get wrecked for the win. What happened to the '18' was on me. But, overall, it was a great rebound for our Boot Barn team. We just weren't on the right side of the strategy on the final restart. We have two good races for us coming up and I'm ready for it."

Todd Gilliland had his breakout race on Sunday at the famed IMS with partner Ruedebusch Development and Construction. Gilliland qualified ninth on Saturday and the team took their speed into Sunday's race.


In Stage One, Gilliland raced to the end while others made a pit stop. He finished sixth. Coming from the back through Stage Two, Gilliland stayed fast and showed off his talents on the tough road course. He finished 26th, but cycled into the top-20 for the final push.


The final stage, the team stayed aggressive and consistently moved forward. Gilliland even led the race and proved he had no problem being up front. During two late race restarts, Gilliland moved up and finished fourth. It was an incredible performance for the young talent.

"It s just really exciting," said Gilliland. "This rookie season has been really tough. The Cup Series is hard. I’ve learned that. It’s easy to give up and that’s one thing, too. You have confidence when you come to the Cup Series, but you get beat down quick. Even just having a ninth-place qualifying effort and just to run up front the first stage. We stayed out and got stage points and kind of had to come from the back again, but that’s what me and my crew chief was talking about. That’s really our best weekend start to finish by far, so hopefully that’s just something to build on. For me, that’s a lot of confidence. Road course racing is tough, too. I’ve always loved it, but it hasn’t really loved me so much this year, especially the first time here at Indianapolis. That’s really cool.”


HOW CRAZY WAS IT GOING THROUGH TURN ONE TODAY? “It definitely was. I would drive in and try to get to the guy in front of me and then I would just get pounded from the back, hit the guy in front of me, bounce off both guys to my sides. You have tunnel vision. Guys are getting spun right in front of you. Your facing somebody and then you’re past them, off in the grass and then you’re just trying to merge out and get single-file as quickly as possible. Even right there, I was side-by-side with the 23. Thanks to him for racing me clean. It could have been a wreck for both of us, but, overall, I’m super happy to have survived those last few restarts and then obviously to put myself in position to capitalize on those restarts.”

Michael McDowell and the No. 34 Horizon Hobby team again collected a top-10 finish. With high expectations, the team started seventh and raced in the top-10 throughout Stage One. The team came to pit road just before the end of the stage.


Stage Two, McDowell restarted ninth and again raced in the top-10. The team raced close to the top-five and was ready for the final stage.


The team restarted the final stage in 16th and steadily moved forward. With 18 laps left, McDowell was back to seventh and fighting for a top-five. The final restarts, McDowell shuffled back to finish eighth.


"I'm proud of Todd today," said McDowell. "And it was a great weekend for FRM. It just shows how hard everyone works and it's great to see it pay off.


"For us, we're so focused on winning. We just had a tough restart at the end. It's really aggressive and we came up short there. We had a fast Horizon Hobby Ford Mustang, but we just weren't in the best position for the final restart to make a win happen.


"We have four more chances to get a playoff spot. We're going to try hard to make it happen."


FRM will travel to the Michigan International Speedway this weekend for NASCAR Cup Series action. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is off.

 

ABOUT FRONT ROW MOTORSPORTS Front Row Motorsports (FRM) is a winning organization in the NASCAR Cup and Camping World Truck Series and the 2021 Daytona 500 champions. The team was founded in 2004 and is owned by successful entrepreneur, Bob Jenkins. FRM fields the No. 34 and the No. 38 NASCAR Cup Series teams along with the No. 38 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team– from its Mooresville, N.C. headquarters. Visit teamfrm.com and follow FRM on social media: Twitter at @Team_FRM, Instagram at @team_frm and Facebook at facebook.com/FrontRowMotorsports.

-30- TEAM CONTACTS: Michael McDowell John Dragonetti E-mail: jdragonetti@frontrowmotorsports.com Mobile: 704-578-9937 Todd Gilliland and Zane Smith Chris Murdock Mobile: 740-861-4534 E-Mail: cmurdock@frontrowmotorsports.com