*2012 Ride:* No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford
*2012 Primary Sponsors:* Autism Speaks, A&W All-American Food, Big Machine Records Long John Silver’s, 1-800 LoanMart, MHP/Power Pack Pudding, Mod Space, Mossy Oak/Pursuit Channel, Peanut Patch/Margaret Holmes, Taco Bell, Rick Santorum for President
*2012 Owner:* Bob Jenkins
*2012 Crew Chief:* Pat Tryson, Derrick Finley
*Stats:* 36 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 0 Top 10s, 4 DNFs, 0 Poles, 30th in points.
*Best Finish:* 13th (Talladega – May).
*Average Finish:* 27.3.
*2012 Team Ranking:* *2nd* of 2. The ironically named Front Row Motorsports team has set some lofty aspirations for itself; however, with the odds stacked against them, for wins and championships they have embraced what their role is and show up every weekend to compete. The 2012 season saw Ragan and Gilliland combine for one top-five, two top-10, four top-15 and eight top-20 finishes, and an average finish of 27th.
*High Point:* The No. 38 team was able to make their way into the rain-delayed Daytona 500, and would ultimately post their best finish at another restrictor plate track, Talladega in May, with a 13th-place result. The team actually ran strong during the fall Talladega race as well, although their 15th-place finish was buoyed by the entire field wrecking on the last lap.
*Low Point:* Pretty much the other 33 weeks. But hey, they show up every weekend, and make every race. There’s no shame in that.
*Summary:* Hard to find fault with the Front Row Motorsports team. They are a tandem effort who gets their engines through Roush Yates. While the results aren’t going to set the motorsports world ablaze, they are a steady, consistent bunch who have managed to make their business model work. By utilizing Jenkins’ franchise involvement with Taco Bell and Long John Silvers, the two teams combined to take in just under $7 million in winnings for 2012.
Gilliland has proven himself to be a solid restrictor plate driver in years past, having won a pole for Robert Yates Racing in 2006 at Talladega. The team started the year off with Pat Tryson, who not that long ago had been calling the shots for such Sprint Cup luminaries as Mark Martin, Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, and Bobby Labonte. He was replaced mid-year by Derrick Finley, who along with Gilliand will return for 2013.
On Friday last week, Gilliland commented on the extension of his affiliation with Front Row Motorsports for the 2013 season. “I’m excited to start my fourth year with Front Row Motorsports,” Gilliland said. “We’ve gotten better each and every season and I’m eager to get the season going with Derrick (Finley) again. Bob Jenkins has put a lot into this team since he started with a part-time (operation) back in ’05. He’s growing it the way he should and the results are showing.”
*Off-Track News:* New Taco Bell XXL Nachos are awesome. If they can put those on the hood next year, expect a top 10.
*2013 Outlook:* The new Gen6 car will debut next year and bring about with it a host of changes and challenges. Ultimately, look for more of the same from Front Row Motorsports. They aren’t exactly a start and park operation, but outside of the plate tracks or a strong showing at Michigan, they will continue to play the role they’ve carved out for themselves. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
*2011 Frontstretch.com Grade:* B.
*2012 Grade:* C+. Give them an A for Effort, a D– for the results, and average it out to a C+. You’re only as good as the tools that you have to work with. Last year, they managed a third place in the Daytona 500, hence the B.
*Little Known Gilliland Fact:* Gilliland was teammates with Tiger Woods on their golf team in high school, at Western High School in Anaheim, CA.