Smith Surges Late, Gilliland Rebounds, and McDowell Battles Hard in Las Vegas
Front Row Motorsports (FRM) circled Las Vegas Motor Speedway as a track to improve. With the Truck team already locked into the playoffs, and solid runs by the Cup teams in both Daytona and Auto Club, momentum was on its side. The loaded weekend began with the Truck Series practicing, qualifying, and racing on Friday, followed by Cup Series practice and qualifying Saturday, and finally the race on Sunday.
SMITH SURGES LATE
After the win in Daytona, Zane Smith and his No. 38 MRC Ford F-150 was targeted again as one to watch in Las Vegas. When activity began, he showed exactly why he was a favorite. Team MRC started sixth.
When the race got underway, Smith wasted no time in slicing his way through the top-five runners, putting himself in the top position early on. After an early caution and pit service, a slight hang up resulted in the team restarting around where they started, which caused damage to the nose of the truck when contact was made with a slower truck on the restart. Taking time to work on it, Smith was tasked with working back through the field, to which he did, twice.
After battling through and then receiving a speeding penalty, Smith had to do the same all over again, which, thanks to a great truck, he was able to do. In the last few laps in the third and final stage, he was able to hold the fourth position and capitalize on the hard racing in front of him. Leading the last few laps, quicker trucks behind him were able to catch, and one, pass for the win out of turn two on the last lap. It would have been Smith's fifth top-five in a row dating back to last season. However, after the race, there was a lug nut issue, resulting in his position being relegated to 36th. FRM has yet to make a final decision on an appeal.
MCDOWELL BATTLES HARD ALL RACE
McDowell entered Las Vegas with a top-ten in Daytona, and what should have been another exiting Auto Club. With an electronics failure that resulted in a DNF, the Stage Front team entered the weekend knowing that the speed is there, and a good finish was in the cards. Working tirelessly on the car before and during practice, the goal was to nail the setup going into qualifying and the race. While it did not show in practice or qualifying, a 22nd starting spot was quickly turned into much more when the green flag dropped. Surging beyond the top-15, and nearly into the top-10, the speed from the previous weeks showed. With the handling tailing toward the loose side, the team wrenched to get the car to his liking/
Leading the first four laps of Stage Two, McDowell continued to fight tooth-and-nail to hold off cars with newer tires as best he could. Unfortunately, an untimely caution, and an issue on a pit stop, mired them in the back. It cut any hopes of being able to make another surge to the front. The team nearly was able to bounce back, but an untimely caution with a speeding penalty, trapped them two laps down.
MCDOWELL ON LAS VEGAS:
“We had another really fast car during the first half of the race, led laps, and were in contention to finish well. We had some issues in the mid-to late-stages of the race that hurt our finish, but I’m proud of the speed that we have brought to the track to start our season. We’ll continue working, and get the new cars bugs worried out, and start clocking off some good finishes.”
GILLILAND REBOUNDS IN CLOSING STAGES
Todd Gilliland and the No. 38 Frontline Enterprises crew had yet another strong showing in Las Vegas. Gilliland took the green flag in 30th, but quickly got the car up fighting into the top- 20. Gilliland fought a tight car all evening long but managed to get his Ford Mustang to a high of 14th.
Gilliland would get caught a lap down due to a caution flag during green flag pit stops that would set the team behind. That did not stop the Frontline Enterprises machine from fighting, Gilliland would come back to gain his lap back but on the final restart. Gilliland would bring the car home in 23rd.
GILLILAND ON LAS VEGAS:
“We fought with the handling of the car all day”, Gilliland said. "I’m really proud of my team and the way we showed speed throughout the middle of the race. We keep getting closer and closer each week. I’m learning so much about the new cars. I feel like we’re super close to battling for better positions.”
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.
Todd Gilliland and Zane Smith