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NASCAR: 2021 Daytona 500 Champion Michael McDowell to Leave Front Row Motorsports at the End of 2024

Michael McDowell will leave Front Row Motorsports at the end of the season. He has been driving for the NASCAR Cup Series team since 2018. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Michael McDowell will leave Front Row Motorsports at the end of the 2024 season.

McDowell announced on Wednesday that he will drive for a new team in 2025. The 2021 Daytona 500 champion has been driving for the team since the start of the 2018 season.

“We thank Michael for everything he has done during his time as a driver with Front Row Motorsports,” FRM owner Bob Jenkins said in a statement. “His 2021 Daytona 500 victory, a dominant victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and two appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs set a new standard for our organization. He became the leader of his team and the organization.”

McDowell, 39, has three top-10 finishes in 12 races this season. He made the playoffs after his Daytona 500 victory in 2021 and again in 2023 when he won at the Indianapolis road course. He is currently 26th in the standings and will likely need a win to make the playoffs again.

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That victory almost came at Talladega. McDowell led the field into Turn 4 on the final lap, but crashed while trying to block a run from Brad Keselowski in the trioval.

According to Fox SportsMcDowell will likely move to Spire Motorsports in 2025. Spire will have a three-car team this season, with Carson and Corey LaJoie serving as the team’s two full-time drivers. Zane Smith will drive a third car for the team, as it is on loan from Trackhouse Racing.

McDowell’s announcement could be the first of many for drivers and teams outside the top level of the Cup Series. There appears to be a lot of moving parts heading into the 2025 season, with Smith’s near-term future uncertain, rumors of a possible downsizing at Stewart-Haas Racing and now an opening at Front Row Motorsports.

Trackhouse has Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez in its two cars. If it wants to include Smith in the group, it could choose not to re-sign or extend Suarez – who won the second race of the season. The team also has a deal with Australian Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen as he runs a partial Cup Series schedule this season.

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If it expands to more than two full-time cars, Trackhouse will need a charter. According to a Fox story earlier this week, SHR has not renewed its contract with Ford and “has sent potential buyers information about what it would take to purchase a charter.”

Stewart-Haas has regressed significantly in recent seasons. Kevin Harvick supported the organization before his retirement and 14th-ranked Chase Briscoe is the only SHR driver in the playoff field for now through the first 12 races of 2024.

If SHR sells one or two charters, the driver market could change even more. The team currently employs Briscoe, Noah Gragson, Josh Berry and Ryan Preece. Gragson and Berry are in their first years with the team, while Preece has been riding for the team since the start of the 2023 season and is currently 29th in the standings.

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