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Over the past few days, we’ve started to break down the season. Thus far, we’ve gone through the back runners and some of the smaller teams, which can be found here:
Best of the Rest: https://dfsheadquarters.com/2020-nascar-preview-best-of-the-rest/
Today, we will jump into another small team, that is getting smaller in 2020. Front Row Motorsports, which had been running three cars, sold the 38 charter to Rick Ware and will run 2020 with just two cars, though they just announced they will be starting a Gander Outdoors Truck Series team, which is somewhat exciting.
This team is down to two drivers, and they couldn’t be any different from an experience perspective. I think it’s definitely going to make things interesting in 2020, but these guys are often going to be some of the cheapest options on the slate and there will be times where we absolutely will want to play them.
Michael McDowell – #34 Front Row Motorsports Ford
Average Finishes since February 2018:
Short Track: 29.33
1 Mile: 25.30
1.5 Mile: 25.13
2 Mile: 24.83
2.5 Mile: 19.33
Restrictor Plate: 21.25
Road Course: 18.33
As you can see from the above stats, there have been pretty defined places to roll with McDowell. He would often times qualify in 27th and give us hope at mile and a half tracks but the reality is that for the most part he wasn’t someone who typically paid off in big ways. Actually, more often than not, Matt Tifft was the primary value play from this team who seemed to find his way on optimals more often.
McDowell does have some prowess at Watkins Glenn and at the restrictor plate tracks, but it is, of course, fully dependent on where he qualifies. If he is post 25 on either, he is a guy that will make it into the vast majority of my builds. He had a super strong finish in the Daytona 500 in 2019, but really the season was all downhill from there.
I will say that it did seem like when Front Row showed speed in 2019, they typically finished fairly well. A lot of that might be on David Ragan as opposed to McDowell, but this is a team that knows their drivers strengths, track specific, and really does work to make sure they have the best possible ride on them.
The outlook from McDowell in 2020 is no different in my opinion than his in 2019.
John Hunter Nemechek – #36 Front Row Motorsports Ford
Average Finishes since February 2018:
Short Track: N/A
1 Mile: 27
1.5 Mile: 22
2 Mile: N/A
2.5 Mile: N/A
Restrictor Plate: N/A
Road Course: N/A
John Hunter will take over the ride for Matt Tifft, who, in an unfortunate series of events, is sidelined once again. It’s never good to see someone lose their ride over a health concern, but NASCAR is a business at the end of the day.
We saw JHN run well in the races he did compete in, helping fantasy owners cash in on his limited efforts. I do think he is a very talented driver who will go massively overlooked because he stands no chance at the Rookie of the Year much due to his equipment. I don’t see him having a very high ceiling and neither of these cars is on the playoff radar unless somehow they luck into a plate race win.
I do think we will have points in the year where we will be able to use him. He will likely be a value priced option and in the short-term I like him more than McDowell until proven otherwise. He’s been a winner at every level of the sport and that counts for something. We can throw out 2019 results, though, because it’s just not enough to go off of and there is likely a lot of noise. We’ll get a clearer picture of who he is in the NASCAR landscape during the first half of the year.