Kvapil and Gilliland Return to Front Row in '11
Travis Kvapil and David Gilliland will be back behind the wheels of their Front Row Motorsports Fords for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The Statesville, N.C.-based team announced Friday that the veteran drivers will return for the organization's third full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series, with Kvapil racing the No. 34 Long John Silver's Ford and David Gilliland in the No. 38 Taco Bell Ford. The team plans to enter its third car, the No. 37 Ford, in select races during the 2011 season.
"I'm thrilled to have Travis and David back," said Bob Jenkins, owner of Front Row Motorsports. "We're going into our third season running full-time in Sprint Cup racing and we're really starting to build something here with these guys. Our drivers are back, (Taco Bell team crew chief) Peter Sospenzo is back, (general manager) Jerry Freeze is into his third season running the team for us. So, I'm really excited to keep building with this core group."
Front Row also made two important additions to further the team's growth and competitiveness on track. The team appointed Derrick Finley to the newly created position of competition director and named Bill Henderson crew chief of the No. 34 team.
Finley is a degreed engineer who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Front Row. He has held leadership roles with some of the most storied teams in the sport's history, including Dale Earnhardt Inc., Bill Davis Racing and Petty Enterprises.
"I'm really excited to join Front Row and especially to be back working with Ford," said Finley. "It's ironic that I'll be back in the same shop where I cut my teeth in racing with (former NASCAR team owner) Travis Carter, and working again with the engineering staff at Ford Racing. Ford has a lot of great new tools and significant resources for their teams, and I can't wait to use them to help Front Row move up the grid."
New crew chief Henderson brings the No. 34 Long John Silver's team more than 12 years of experience in the NASCAR garage, most recently as general manager for Prism Motorsports and crew chief for the team's No. 66 entry. His racing resume also includes crew chief roles in the Nationwide Series with FitzBradshaw Racing and in the Sprint Cup Series with drivers Kyle Petty and Dave Blaney.
Sospenzo will be back atop the pit box of the No. 38 Taco Bell team, kicking off his third season with the Front Row organization. He was paired with Gilliland for the final 12 races of the 2010 season in what proved to be a successful driver-crew chief relationship that produced several strong runs on the track. The late-season boost sent the team into the off-season feeling optimistic they can return even stronger in 2011.
In addition to solidifying its team roster, Front Row Motorsports made some off-season advances in its equipment, setting the stage for improved performance in 2011. The team will begin using Ford's new FR9 engines, provided by Roush-Yates Racing Engines, and has upgraded its racing stable with the recent asset purchase of 34 racecars from Richard Petty Motorsports.
"I'm pretty excited for this year," continued Jenkins. "We've got the newer engine and upgraded our equipment, we've got our core people back and added some new talent, too. All the pieces are in place and we're ready to go."