How many of you a couple of years ago would have imagined a championship won by a driver representing Furniture Row Racing? With plenty of help from Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing, journeyman Martin Truex Jr. has not only put wins on the board, but has won the vaunted Cup.
All the stars aligned for the Denver, Colorado team owned by furniture mogul Barney Visser. Now, Front Row Racing has announced enhanced support from Ford and Roush Racing.
With that kind of support, can Front Row drivers David Ragan and Michael McDowell fashion a Cinderella story of their own? It could be a stretch, but not a huge one.
With the rise of Truex to the championship, Ragan and McDowell become the quintessential definition of journeymen. Both have settled into middling careers, no one would necessarily describe them as lousy drivers, but big highlights have been scarce for both. Ragan did get Front Row its first organizational win at Talladega race some years ago, but most generally agree they’re fair drivers who have spent most of the career in less than race winning equipment (aside from Ragan’s early years at Roush).
Can this stepped up support be a game changer for Front Row? That is one of the things that will be interesting to follow in 2018. Even with the best of equipment, winning a NASCAR race is not easy. Perhaps a better indication of progress by the team is whether or not Ragan and McDowell can reel off some top tens and top twenties. It’s better than where they’ve run most of the time, and that’s not casting aspersions on their talent.
As a fan, it would be cool to see Front Row become a force to reckon with. Everybody loves a Cinderella story. With the additional support, and a competitive climate that sees fewer of the grizzled veterans around, there’s an open door.