2012 was an expansion year for Front Row Motorsports as the team fielded three cars on a full-time basis. The team has been primarily a Sprint Cup Series organization, but also ran a full Nationwide Series slate in 2009 and 2010 with Tony Raines.
Last season, the team signed a well-known driver, David Ragan, who would compete full-time for the organization. But, even with a driver with his talent, the team still struggled to run inside of the top-25 on a weekly basis. A rather unsuccessful organization, Front Row Motorsports also fielded cars for Josh Wise and David Gilliland. Combined, the three drivers became a laughing stock in a way over the course of the 2012 season.
Wise’s season started after Daytona. The team qualified for the Daytona 500 with Raines, but Wise was given the assignment to start-and-park the car on a weekly basis. Even with a small sponsor throughout the season, Wise was only allowed to run two full races, one of which he crashed in. But, a press-release from the team stated that they want to run Wise more often. If they don’t, Wise will continue to look desperate for a ride after four last place finishes.
Desperation has been a part of the organization for a while now. Struggling to make races, let alone be competitive has been a challenge for the team since its inception in 2005. But, now the team has corporate sponsors which has taken the load off for team owner Bob Jenkins who funded the team out of his own pocket for quite some time. Jenkins is the owner of several restaurant chains including Taco Bell, Long John Silvers as well as A&W All American stores.
The time has come for his team to be successful after all the years of hardship for the growing organization. In 2012, the team welcomed more new sponsors than any other team with seven new sponsors putting their logos on the team’s cars.
For the 2013 season, it’s expected that the team will do better with better funding including the return of sponsor McCall Farms which will sponsor Ragan for four races and could likely expand with some respectable runs. Ragan and Gilliland should be factors at the short tracks, restrictor plate tracks as well as road courses due to the team’s history. But, with the new Sprint Cup Series car, fans can expect to see the Front Row Motorsports drivers running in the first half of the pack on a more frequent basis.
It’s time for each of the Front Row Motorsports drivers to prove that they are capable of racing in NASCAR’s elite series. It will be a make or break year for the team as they will definitely not survive by running at the back of the pack for an entire year once again.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.