Front Row Motorsports announced ahead of the Daytona 500 that Zane Smith will replace Todd Gilliland for six NASCAR Cup Series races in 2023. Now, the second-year driver has joined a new team for five of these events.
Gilliland met with media members ahead of Daytona 500 qualifying and provided some more information about his altered 2023 schedule. He explained that he will join Rick Ware Racing for five of the six races.
This schedule will start with the trip to Phoenix Raceway, and it will continue with stops at Sonoma Raceway, Texas Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, and the Charlotte Roval.
“I’m going to run five of the six in the Rick Ware 15 car,” Gilliland told media members at Daytona International Speedway. “And then we’re working on the sixth one. It’s really cool. I’m really, really thankful to those guys for letting me hop in that car. I have a lot of respect for what they’re doing, what they’re growing on the RFK campus now. Hopefully, that all goes really good.”
Another Driver Will Take Over the No. 15 at Talladega
Gilliland expressed excitement about this opportunity to fill out his schedule, as well as gratitude that Front Row Motorsports and Rick Ware Racing were able to make this deal happen. Now, he only needs to focus on one more event.
As Gilliland explained, the only race that he needs to find a seat for is at Talladega Superspeedway. The No. 15 of Rick Ware Racing is not an option considering that Stewart-Haas Racing’s Riley Herbst will be in the car that week in April.
Herbst, who competes full-time in the Xfinity Series, is making his own Cup Series debut in 2023. He will take on the Daytona 500 and then he will return to the No. 15 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Gilliland will continue to seek a seat for the spring trip to Talladega Superspeedway, and he will have the support of Kevin Harvick’s KHI Management. Though his only realistic option will be a Ford Performance team due to his ties to the OEM.
Gilliland Will First Pursue a Crown Jewel
Gilliland will continue to the pursuit of a ride for Talladega, but this will take a backseat for the first week of the season. He will instead focus on his third-ever Cup Series start at Daytona International Speedway.
Gilliland’s first foray into the Cup Series was the 2022 Daytona 500. He did not complete the race due to a crash. The Coke Zero Sugar 400 also came to an early end due to a crash that collected 13 cars.
The North Carolina native will now suit up at Daytona once again, but he will enter the Crown Jewel event with a different mindset. As Gilliland explained, his confidence level is “a mile ahead” of where it was during his rookie season.
“The Daytona 500 is really, really cool,” Gilliland said. “I have a different perspective on it having grown up coming to the Daytona 500 and thinking it was the greatest day ever since I was a young kid.
“Just to be able to come here and do it for myself last year was probably one of the coolest days I will ever have in racing. My first 500. Now coming back, it is equally as cool but I also have more confidence than I had last year. But just the Daytona 500, in general, is an atmosphere that can’t be matched anywhere.”