Front Row Motorsports driver Michael McDowell won the first race of his Cup Series career in February, taking the checkered flag at the Daytona 500. This outing kicked off what has been the strongest season of his career, but the veteran is not using his performance as leverage in his upcoming contract negotiations. His plan is to stick with Front Row Motorsports for the future.
According to Forbes, the 36-year-old McDowell will become a free agent at the end of the season. Hitting the open market is nothing new for him, but the difference is that he now has increased value. Forbes reports that his open-market value has jumped to $2.48 million after a strong start to the season. However, McDowell explained that he won’t push for a contract with a bigger team.
“I’m planning to be at Front Row as long as they’ll have me,” McDowell said. “I enjoy what we’re doing. It’s fun to be a part of something and build something. I have a tremendous amount of freedom at Front Row to be a part of those things … a lot more of the inner working.
“That’s not part of the conversation,” McDowell added about asking for more money. “I’m not going to Bob [Jenkins, team owner] and Jerry [Freeze, team GM] and saying ‘Hey, look what I’m doing,’ because Bob has been spending a lot of his own money for a long time and I’m just happy that we’re having success.”
The Future of NASCAR Could Benefit McDowell’s Earning Potential
If McDowell returns to Front Row as planned, he will get behind a new version of the No. 34 Ford Mustang. The Next Gen car will debut in 2022, bringing with it a set standard for parts and lower costs for all of the teams. Additionally, the new composite body will be more durable and will not immediately send drivers to the garages or pit road after a few bumps against the wall.
McDowell is already a contender in the current generation of stock car, but he expressed optimism that the Next Gen will help him become even better during the 2022 season. If so, the veteran could actually create more revenue for himself without asking for a pay raise during contract negotiations.
“I’m really looking forward to the future with the Next Gen car,” McDowell said, per Forbes. “I think that we have the people and we have the team and we have the partners that, if the new car does what we think it could potentially do, we will be a contender at a lot of these racetracks.
“… I feel like this Next Gen car’s going to even allow us more opportunity to run well and that’ll generate more sponsorship, which generates more revenue and more revenue options for me in that regard.”
McDowell Originally Joined Front Row Motorsports in Late 2017
Now in his fourth year with Front Row, McDowell joined the organization following the 2017 season. He made the leap from Leavine Family Racing and replaced Landon Cassill in the No. 34 Ford. He has remained with the team ever since, posting 12 top-10 finishes, four top-fives, and one win.
In the first 15 races of 2021 alone, McDowell posted five top-10 finishes. He placed eighth in the Daytona Road Course race, sixth at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and seventh in the first-ever race at Circuit of the Americas. Though McDowell’s second-best finish of the season was third place at Talladega Superspeedway.
With several road courses and superspeedway races remaining on the schedule, McDowell has the opportunity to continue pushing for top-10 finishes. He has considerable experience at Sonoma, Road America, and the Charlotte Roval, as well as a track record of strong performances in a variety of settings.