John Hunter Nemechek to drive No. 38 car for Front Row in 2020

John Hunter Nemechek will have a full-time Cup Series ride in 2020. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
John Hunter Nemechek will have a full-time Cup Series ride in 2020. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

John Hunter Nemechek’s fill-in role at the end of the 2019 season at Front Row Motorsports turned into a full-time gig for 2020.

The team announced Thursday that Nemechek would drive the No. 38 car in 2020 while Michael McDowell would return to the team and drive the No. 34 car.

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Nemechek, 22, filled in for Matt Tifft in the No. 36 car for the final three races of the 2019 season after Tifft suffered a seizure at Martinsville. Tifft and the team said they were parting ways earlier this fall as he continues his recovery.

Nemechek will drive the number vacated by David Ragan. He retired from the Cup Series at the end of the season.

"I'm thrilled for the opportunity to drive for Bob Jenkins and Front Row Motorsports," Nemechek said in a statement. "Having driven the last three races with this team in 2019, I feel like we already have a foundation to start the 2020 season. I'm looking forward to continuing to build FRM."

From three cars to two

You’ll notice there’s no third car or driver listed above. And the bottom of Front Row’s statement notes the team fields just the No. 34 car and the No. 38 car. That means it’s cutting the No. 36 car from its lineup.

The drop from three cars to two cars means there’s a charter available for another team to lease or purchase heading into the 2020 season. It reasons that an existing backmarker team like Premium Motorsports or Rick Ware Racing or even StarCom Racing could jump in and strike a deal for that charter and its increased share of prize money and guaranteed entry into every Cup Series race.

While not impossible it sure seems unlikely that a new team would acquire the charter. The 2020 season is the final season before NASCAR introduces a new Cup Series car in 2021. Jumping into the series in 2020 would require a new team to pay for current cars and equipment while also spend money for development in 2021.

Nemechek has 7 NASCAR wins

Nemechek has won six Truck Series races in 99 starts and has one Xfinity Series win in 51 starts. His lone Xfinity Series win came in 2018 at Kansas Speedway for Chip Ganassi Racing and was seventh in the points standings in 2019 while driving for GMS Racing. 

He and his dad Joe Nemechek became the first father-son duo to start a Truck Series race, an Xfinity Series race and a Cup Series race in the same weekend at Phoenix in November. A week later, Joe Nemechek started the Truck Series race to surpass Richard Petty for the most NASCAR national series starts.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports

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