Front Row Motorsports expands to three teams for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
Veterans Michael McDowell and David Ragan return to the Ford team with Matt Tifft migrating from Richard Childress Racing’s Xfinity Series program.
"They’ve gotten better and their alliance with Roush and they are on the upswing and getting momentum carried," Tifft said when asked why he joined FRM.
"We have the new Mustang this year and the new rules package. I think it’s a great time at FRM to really start competing with the guys that have been above them and start being in the mix with them. This is a huge step for the team moving forward and I hope to be around to help for a while to build it to keep moving on up with them."
Tifft’s Rookie of the Year run will be helmed by veteran crew chief Mike Kelley, who comes over from Roush Fenway Racing. Having a pair of veteran teammates is something Tifft knows will be beneficial to his development and the team’s performance.
"They’re both guys I’ve worked with before, so it helps being familiar with those guys," he said. "Their veteran presence is going to help a lot as I get going. As I have questions and they know the transition of being a rookie in the Cup series and what that’s like.
"I think for me it’s great, I get to learn from then and they’ve been in my position before and their great teachers of the sport. I’m excited to learn from them as we get in the trenches once we get in a rhythm, our competition meeting after practice and stuff just having the ability to pick their brains."
McDowell will also have a new crew chief in Drew Blickensderfer, who left Richard Petty Motorsports. McDowell is excited about pairing with his new crew chief as well as the team’s readiness for the season and the new Cup Series rules package.
"We’ve done a really good job in the offseason of not feeling like we are scrambling," McDowell said. "But because you don’t know what you don’t know, it’s more intense from a development standpoint. You don’t know If you need to work on this or that, you don’t know so it’s a little bit of a guessing game.
"Until you get out there to race and see where you are at, you don’t know if you need to work on more side force, less side force, more drag or less drag. All these things that you are trying to go through so you’re a little bit guessing."
Ragan returns with crew chief Seth Barbour for the new year. Like McDowell, he believes FRM is poised for better things ahead and is embracing the changes made in the off-season.
"The addition of Matt Tifft has been a blessing for Front Row Motorsports, we’ve been able to attract some really good people to our organization," Ragan explained. "We’ve been able to attract some really good people to our organization we’ve been able to build some new cars and continue to make Front Row a better race team.
"(Team owner) Bob Jenkins had that vision 10 years ago and every year we’ve gotten a little bit better and more consistent. We’ve got some really good employees that have worked really hard over the years. We’ve got some good partners so by adding that in a third team we were able to do it at the right time. We’ve had a lot of work to do but the group we’re taking to Daytona, the racecars, crew chiefs, and engineers. It’s one of the strongest groups we’ve had it’s going to be fun to see it hit the race track."
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