front row motorsports

Richmond winners and losers

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WINNERS

Joe Gibbs Racing — It was a 1-2-3-4 finish until Erik Jones’ car failed inspection. Still the team scored a 1-2-3 finish and claimed its fourth consecutive win on a short track with Martin Truex Jr.’s triumph. Don’t forget, the organization also won Friday’s Xfinity race with Christopher Bell.

Ryan Newman His fifth-place finish tied his best result of the year and was his third consecutive top-10 showing. He was encouraged by the team running toward the front and noted: “You take away those four Gibbs cars, we were racing for the win. I know it doesn’t work that way, but if they would have had one bad meeting (incident) we would’ve been in the hunt.” Still, Newman moved into a transfer spot heading into this coming weekend’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

Brad KeselowskiHe finished fourth and was the only driver outside of Joe Gibbs Racing to lead Saturday’s race.

Bubba Wallace His 12th-place finish was his third top-15 result in the last five races. He had one top-15 finish in the first 23 races of the season.

Front Row Motorsports — All three of its cars placed 21st or better, the first time the team has accomplished that feat this season. David Ragan was 19th, rookie Matt Tifft placed 20th and Michael McDowell was 21st.

LOSERS

Erik Jones He was feeling good about his fourth-place finish that put him within three points of the final transfer spot to the next round only to later find out that his car was disqualified for failing inspection after the race. Now he’s 45 points out of the final transfer spot and is essentially in a must-win situation. He faces being eliminated from the first round of the playoffs for a second year in a row.

William Byron Got lapped in the final circuits before the end of each stage and also had a pit road speeding penalty. That led to a season-worst 25th-place finish. He holds the final transfer spot to the second round by two points on Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman heading to the Roval.

Silly Season scorecard: Matt DiBenedetto finds new ride for 2020

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That didn’t take long.

Less than a month after it became public that Matt DiBenedetto would not return to Leavine Family Racing in 2020, he has a new ride. DiBenedetto will drive the No. 21 for Wood Brothers Racing in 2020 with Paul Menard stepping back from full-time racing after this season.

So, yes, Denny Hamlin‘s words from Bristol were heard.

“There’s many car owners that finance cars that are on the racetrack, good teams,” Hamlin said after beating DiBenedetto to win the Bristol night race. “They got to step up and grow some balls and take a chance on somebody they really believe in. That or they can continue to run 15th.”

Here’s a look at where the NASCAR Silly Season stands at this point:

ANNOUNCED OPEN RIDES FOR 2020

No. 8: With Richard Childress Racing announcing that Daniel Hemric won’t return to the team (announcement made Sept. 17) next season, all that is left to be done is for the official announcement that Tyler Reddick will move up to take that ride. Childress spoke July 30 about wanting to keep Reddick.

No. 38: Front Row Motorsports must replace David Ragan, who stated Aug. 14 that 2019 would be his final season running a full schedule.

No. 95: The only thing missing is the official announcement that Christopher Bell will drive for Leavine Family Racing next season. Expect that soon.

 

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2020

No. 13: Ty Dillon posted a video on Instagram refuting rumors that he would retire after this season. He has a contract with Germain Racing through 2020.

No. 20: Joe Gibbs Racing announced Sept. 6 that it had signed Erik Jones to an extension. It is a one-year extension for the 2020 season.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto replaces Paul Menard at Wood Brothers Racing (announcement made Sept. 10). DiBenedetto’s deal is for 2020 only.

 

AMONG THOSE YET TO ANNOUNCE DEALS FOR 2020

No. 1: Kurt Busch‘s contract expires after this season but all indications are that he’ll return to the Chip Ganassi Racing team with Monster Energy in 2020.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer‘s contract expires after this season but Bowyer stated as recently as at Darlington that things were moving closer to an extension.

No. 41: Daniel Suarez has said that both he and the team have an option on his contract for next year. He has remained confident that he will return to Stewart-Haas Racing.

Matt Tifft paying tribute to family’s racing roots for Southern 500

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Matt Tifft‘s throwback paint scheme for this weekend’s Southern 500 (6 p.m. Sunday on NBCSN) serves as tribute to two men: his father, Quinten Tifft, and David Hilliker.

The elder Tifft once owned a Dirt Late Model car that was driven by Hilliker, a Michigan Motorsports Hall of Famer.

Matt Tifft’s No. 36 Ford will be made to look like the No. 21 car Hilliker raced.

Front Row Motorsports“You could say David Hilliker was my childhood dirt track hero,” Tifft said in a press release.

“I’m really excited to recreate this paint scheme for Darlington. When I was little, my dad would bring home this car in the offseason and we’d tear it down together. That was where I first learned how to work on a race car.”

“My dad has been such a huge influence throughout my career, and I couldn’t have gotten to this point without him. I’m grateful for the opportunity to give him this kind of recognition and can’t wait to see his face when he sees the car in person for the first time.”

Sunday’s race will mark Tifft’s first Cup start at Darlington Raceway. He has two starts there in the Xfinity Series with a best finish of eighth.

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Michael McDowell to honor Jimmy Means with Darlington scheme

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Front Row Motorsports is changing things up on its No. 34 Ford for the Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway next week (6 p.m. Sept 1 on NBCSN).

After three years of using the same retro Love’s Travel Stops paint scheme, the team will show up in Darlington next weekend with Dockside Logistics as Michael McDowell‘s primary sponsor. With that sponsor comes a tribute to long-time NASCAR owner and former driver Jimmy Means.

McDowell’s car will be made to look like the No. 52 Alka-Seltzer Pontiac Means owned and drove part-time from 1989-91 in the Cup Series.

One of Means’ cars, which was driven by Mike Wallace, is located in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car graveyard.

More: Retro Rundown of Southern 500 paint schemes

Front Row Motorsports was originally known as Means-Jenkins Motorsports, based on a partnership between Means and current FRM team owner Bob Jenkins. Their relationship began with Jenkins sponsoring Means at Bristol with his local Taco Bell franchise, which led Jenkins to a partial ownership of Means’ race team. The team was active for one year before Jenkins separated and founded Front Row Motorsports.

“Throwback weekend at Darlington is one of my favorites of the whole year,” McDowell said in a press release. “It’s fun to recreate some of the most well-known paint schemes throughout the history of our sport. Our owner, Bob Jenkins, has always admired Jimmy Means, and the Alka-Seltzer car is definitely a favorite of his. I’m really excited that we can honor their friendship with our No. 34 Dockside Logistics Ford.”

David Ragan stepping back from driving full time after 2019 season

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After 13 consecutive seasons in NASCAR’s premier series, David Ragan will make 2019 his last as a full-time driver.

In a release Wednesday morning from Front Row Motorsports, Ragan, 33, said he will continue to race part time in NASCAR.

“I’ve prayed and heavily considered this decision, but for myself and my family, I believe this is the right thing to do,” the No. 38 Ford driver said. “I am a husband and a father to two young girls first, and I am a driver second.

“To compete in what I consider the greatest series in the world, you need full dedication of your time and focus. My children are growing up quickly, and I want to concentrate my time in being the best father and husband I can be. I feel this is where God is leading my life, and therefore I’m making this decision.”

Ragan later posted a video on Twitter explaining his decision.

Ragan’s rookie Cup season was in 2007 with Roush Fenway Racing. He scored his first Cup victory in the No. 6 Ford with Roush in the July 2, 2011 race at Daytona International Speedway.

He won again on May 5, 2013 at Talladega Superspeedway, delivering the first win for Front Row (which he joined in 2012) in one of the biggest NASCAR upsets in recent history.

Ragan also drove for Joe Gibbs Racing (as a fill-in for Kyle Busch) and Michael Waltrip Racing in 2015 and BK Racing in 2016.

Front Row Motorsports, which also fields cars for Michael McDowell and Matt Tifft, plans to field the No. 38 next season and has begun evaluating candidates to replace Ragan in 2020.

In 457 Cup starts, Ragan has two wins, 15 top fives and 40 top 10s. He finished a career-best 13th in the 2008 points standings.

Over 107 Xfinity starts, he has two wins (Talladega Superspeedway and Bristol Motor Speedway, both in 2009), 17 top fives and 49 top 10s.

Here’s the release from Front Row:

MOORESVILLE N.C. (August 14, 2019) – David Ragan and Front Row Motorsports announced today that Ragan will step away from full-time NASCAR competition after this season.  Ragan will continue to race on a part-time basis in NASCAR and other series at his desire.

Ragan, 33, began competing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2007 with Roush Fenway Racing after finding success in the now NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.  He has 457 starts in the premier Cup Series heading into this weekend’s race with a total of two wins, 40 Top-10 and 15 Top-five finishes.  Ragan’s last Cup win was the first for Front Row Motorsports.  He also has two poles in the Cup series.

These stats accompany two wins in the Xfinity Series and one win the ARCA Menards Series.  In addition, Ragan was the 2007 NASCAR Xfinity Series Rookie of the Year.

A statement from Ragan:

“I’ve prayed and heavily considered this decision, but for myself and my family, I believe this is the right thing to do.  I am a husband and a father to two young girls first, and I am a driver second. To compete in what I consider the greatest series in the world, you need full dedication of your time and focus. My children are growing up quickly, and I want to concentrate my time in being the best father and husband I can be.  I feel this is where God is leading my life, and therefore I’m making this decision.

“There aren’t enough words to thank everyone who has helped me in my career and to all the fans who have supported me in this journey. It’s not over, but I’m ready to spend more time at home.”

A statement from Bob Jenkins, owner, Front Row Motorsports:

“We admire David for making what I’m sure was a very difficult decision.  We also commend him for his reason.  David has always put family first, and as a father, I understand what it’s like to not be at that game or big event for your child.  Throughout his time at Front Row Motorsports, David has always gone beyond what was asked of him- or even volunteering his own time to help grow our team.  Now it’s time for him to give some of that back to his family and we totally support that.  Our doors are always open for David and we’ll miss seeing him every week.”

The team will announce the driver plans of the No. 38 Ford Mustang team when ready.