2014/2015 Review/Preview: Front Row Motorsports

Wednesday, Jan 21 2336

The Front Row Motorsports racing team entered the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season looking to improve on a variety of things after scoring their first win the year prior. Both drivers, David Ragan and David Gilliland combined, earned two top five and four top-10 finishes in 2013. It ended up being Front Row Motorsports best season in the Sprint Cup Series recently.

Once the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season got underway with the Daytona 500, the No. 34 team did not show any strength during the first half of the year, earning only four top-30 finishes through the first 18 events. Even their best tracks, Daytona and Talladega, where Ragan holds wins, weren't so well either after finishes of 34th and 35th in the first two plate races. With about four weeks until the start of the second half, the Georgia native finally found some luck after bringing home a 22nd at Daytona.

With the solid finish to close out the first-half of the 2014 Sprint Cup Series schedule, Ragan used the momentum to bring home a pair of 19th-place finishes at the Pocono Raceway and Watkins Glen two races later. Continuing to ride the wave of momentum, Ragan found even more luck, finishing inside the top-30 in the next three races until his luck ran out with a 33rd at the Richmond International Raceway in September. From there, even after a 42nd-place finish at Loudon after getting into a crash, Ragan managed to score a top-10 finish at the Martinsville Speedway, earning the organizations best finish all year.

When the checkered-flag flown at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Ragan finished the 2014 Sprint Cup Series season with one top-10, one top-15 and four top-20 finishes. It wasn’t exactly what the team wanted, but it’ll certainly be interesting to see what they can build from there in 2015. One of the team’s goals in 2015 should be turning those top-30s into top-20 finishes. If Ragan is able to pull this off, it’ll be interesting to see how much improvement they’ll make in 2016.

Ragan’s teammate, Gilliland, had a very bright year behind the wheel of his No. 38 Ford despite not earning a single victory all season. With the slow start at Daytona in February, Gilliland hit on some luck in the next three races with a trio of finishes inside the top-30. After a bad finish the next week at the Auto Club Speedway, the team rebounded to score top-30 finishes in the next four events. The next three races would be a struggle after having three DNF’s in-a-row to set them back. Not letting the bad races effect them, the team finally recovered in the next five races to continue the streak of top-30 finishes. To close out the first half of the year, Gilliland earned the pole at the Daytona International Speedway in July but finished 35th after getting into a crash.

With the second-half of the season underway, Gilliland continued the strong momentum the next weekend at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The next weekend, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ended up being a bad weekend for the team after taking home 36th. The next six races were very solid runs after taking home top-30 finishes once again. In the final nine races, Gilliland finished the year with five top-30 finishes. With the season over at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, the 38-year-old finished the season with two top-20 and 24 top-30 finishes with a pole. The 2015 Sprint Cup Series season should be a great one for Gilliland after a quiet, but successful year behind the wheel. One of the team’s goals for the year should be turning those top-30 finishes into top-20s, like his teammate Ragan. It’ll be interesting to see how they’ll manage in this area.

With the addition of Cole Whitt as a third car, it’ll be interesting to see how the other two cars will do. If Whitt is able to get the same performance as the other two drivers, the new No. 35 team should do just fine. Driving for BK Racing in 2014, the 23-year-old had a very similar year as the Front Row Motorsports bunch with 24 top-30 finishes in 36 races. This ride should highly benefit Whitt.  

Brett Winningham

Brett has been following the sport of NASCAR since the beginning of the 2006 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Since Brett was 13, he has had a passion of chasing a job in sports that not many get the opportunity of doing. He has been in the NASCAR media since the middle of the 2010 season. Since then, he has been a part of many racing podcast shows to improve his talents. You can find him on twitter @NASCAR_Brett.