Gilliland on the rebound after losing full-time status with Front Row

Gilliland on the rebound after losing full-time status with Front Row


Gilliland on the rebound after losing full-time status with Front Row


Todd Gilliland was set to run another full season in the NASCAR Cup Series until Front Row Motorsports told him a few months ago it wasn’t happening.

While Gilliland will run most of the schedule in the No. 38 Ford, the organization is also giving Zane Smith time in the car. Smith will run at least six races in the No. 38, which has a charter. The first race that Smith takes over the car from Gilliland will be at Phoenix Raceway next month.

Smith is the defending Craftsman Truck Series champion for Front Row. Gilliland is going into his second year at the Cup Series level with the team.

When the news was announced earlier this week, Gilliland posted on Twitter that he was shocked and disappointed. But he clarified he had been given advance notice of the decision.

“The hardest thing was expecting to be full-time and it felt like it came out of nowhere,” Gilliland said. “So, the timeline was (being informed) a couple of months ago. We knew it was going to be more of a part-time schedule, and from there, trying to figure out what races it was going to be that I was missing.”

There are no hard feelings between Gilliland and Smith. The two are friends, and in the time since both were informed of the organization’s plans for this season (before they became public this week), Smith was at Gilliland’s wedding. And Gilliland also knows it serves him better to continue to be a good teammate, even if that includes pushing Smith, who will be a third Front Row car, in a Duel race to help him qualify for the Daytona 500.

Front Row general manager Jerry Freeze told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio the decision to split the car between Gilliland and Smith is not performance-based. Instead, Front Row is working toward giving Smith more time at the Cup Series level while finding the best fit and program for new sponsor Centene Corporation.

The 22-year-old Gilliland competed for Rookie of the Year honors in 2022 and finished 28th in the championship standings. Gilliland earned two top-10 finishes: a career-best fourth place on the Indianapolis road course and a seventh-place finish in the fall race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“One thing I’ve been really thankful of to this point is it seems like Front Row and my whole team, everyone understands,” Gilliland. “It’s not what any one of us would want to do, especially me, but everyone has been really helpful and open to ‘if you need anything, let us know.’

“It seems like Front Row is planning on letting me possibly run other races. That’s the goal now, to fill those races with something, and it seems like we’re getting close on some stuff. Hopefully, it’s all exciting stuff.”

Gilliland has a contract with Front Row and Ford, meaning any deal to race this season needs to go through those entities. But he will only be able to drive a Ford this season.

“You always go out there and do the best you can,” Gilliland said of his outlook. “There are some weeks you’re limited by the car or other circumstances that take you out of contention for a good run. I may be more disappointed than if we don’t capitalize on something just knowing there are limited opportunities. But at the same time, as far as going out there and giving it your all, I expect my team and I still to do that every week.”