NASCAR driver loses full-time ride before 2023 season starts

Todd Gilliland reacts to sharing a ride with Zane Smith despite a previous announcement that he would be a full-time driver

Back in December, Front Row Motorsports announced that Todd Gilliland and Michael McDowell would return in 2023. The two drivers were set to run full time.

This week, a second announcement has backtracked that statement. Zane Smith will share the No. 38 with Gilliland. Smith won the 2022 NASCAR Truck Series championship.

There’s 36 charter teams. Only 33 of them have full-time drivers in the lineup.

Todd Gilliland comments

NASCAR drivers Todd Gilliland and Harrison Burton
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS – SEPTEMBER 10: Todd Gilliland, driver of the #38 CITGARD Ford, (L) and Harrison Burton, driver of the #21 Menards/MasterForce Ford, talk on the grid during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on September 10, 2022 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

“They didn’t just tell me. This was a couple months ago,” Gilliland stated in a Thursday media conference.

“I think the hardest thing was just kind of expecting to be full-time and then just kind of felt like it came out of nowhere.”

“Really, there wasn’t much talk about it at all, that’s the tough part,” Gilliland said. “It was just, [the] expectation was running full-time, and then it was just, this is kind of what we have and what we’re gonna have to do. So I guess that was a shock.”

Smith was a a part of Gilliland’s wedding back in January.

“I haven’t spoke to him since [the news] actually came out,” Gilliland said. “But I’m sure we’re still gonna be friends. It’s a tough business. It’s something that I mean, Marissa, my new wife, talked about.”

Gilliland added, “It’s hard to be friends with people that you’re competing against every single week. I’ve even ran into (good friend) Harrison Burton, and you’re bound to have stuff happen, whether it’s on the race track, stuff like this.”

“It is tough. But, you know, at times, you just have to separate the life aspect of it and work. But like I said, it is tough.”

2022 was the rookie season for Gilliland. He collected a best-finish of 4th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. However, Gilliland finished inside the top-10, twice. Meanwhile, teammate Michael McDowell collected 12 top-10 runs.

Zane Smith
2023 Schedule

Phoenix Raceway

Talladega Superspeedway

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Sonoma Raceway

Texas Motor Speedway

Charlotte Roval

Smith made his NASCAR Cup Series debut last season for RFK Racing. He drove to a 17th place finish at WWT Raceway in St. Louis.


Todd Gilliland | Zane Smith | Front Row Motorsports | NASCAR