Michael McDowell leaving Front Row to drive for Spire

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Shortly after Michael McDowell said Wednesday he would not return to Front Row Motorsports after this season, Spire Motorsports announced it had signed the former Daytona 500 winner to a multiyear contract.

McDowell will drive the No. 71 Chevrolet for Spire starting next season. He will be teamed with Corey LaJoie and Carson Hocevar at Spire.

"This is a new chapter for my family and me, and we're incredibly thankful for the opportunity that's in front of us," McDowell said. "It's going to take some hard work, but I feel like everything is in place for us to be successful as a race team -- to win races and contend for championships.

"People are the greatest asset to any organization, and with Spire's vision, ambition, knowledge and dedication, we will achieve great things. Failure is not an option, and that's the mindset that it will take to achieve our goals."

McDowell, 39, has been with Front Row Motorsports since 2018. He won the Daytona 500 in 2021 and last year's Cup race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course while driving the No. 34 Ford for Front Row.

McDowell has made 228 of his 477 career Cup starts with the organization. He has scored eight of his nine career top-five finishes and 35 of his 40 career top 10s while at Front Row Motorsports.

"Over half of my NASCAR Cup Series starts have been made under the FRM banner, and I'm thankful for each and every one of them," McDowell said. "With that being said, my family and I have made the bittersweet decision that it's time for us to embark on the next chapter of our motorsports journey, making 2024 my final season as the driver of the No. 34 Ford Mustang Dark Horse for Front Row Motorsports."

Team owner Bob Jenkins thanked McDowell for his contributions to the organization and said his wins at Daytona and Indy -- both of which earned McDowell playoff berths -- "set a new standard for our organization.

"He became the leader of his team and the organization. Outside the car, he was the model for a driver we want to represent us and our partners," Jenkins said. "We're sad to see Michael leave, but wish him, Jami and his family nothing but the best as he moves on to another chapter of what is already an incredible racing career."

McDowell won the pole at Atlanta and Talladega this year and started on the front row for the Daytona 500. He crashed while defending his lead coming to the checkered flag at Talladega, one of a series-high four races he failed to finish this year.

He is 26th in the Cup standings entering Sunday's race at Darlington Raceway.