By Dustin Albino

Through two races in the 2024 Cup Series season, the points standings don‘t reflect the performance that Todd Gilliland and his No. 38 Front Row Motorsports team have shown. He‘s buried 32nd in the standings, despite leading the most laps in the series at 74.

Gilliland‘s speed was on full display in Sunday‘s Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He led six times for a race-high 58 laps. It‘s the most laps a Front Row car has led in 1,304 starts at the Cup level.

“My car was really fast,” Gilliland said following the race. “We‘ve shown that the last couple of weeks. Just the progress from my team. Right at this moment, it definitely feels like a huge missed opportunity.”

While running just outside the top 10, Gilliland was swept into a wreck with 21 laps remaining, when Denny Hamlin and Chase Briscoe made contact while battling four wide. The No. 38 car was the middle of a Joe Gibbs Racing sandwich, as he plowed into the rear of Martin Truex Jr.‘s No. 19 car and was hit from behind by Ty Gibbs.

The damage hindered Gilliland‘s performance, finishing four laps down in 26th.

“I lost some track position and got caught in the middle and then just got behind that wreck, which ultimately bent a toe link,” Gilliland added. “I feel like I made a lot of good moves, but obviously the one at the end where it all counts, I didn‘t. I‘ll put the emphasis on a really fast car and my team did an amazing job. I just wish I could have done a little bit better at the end.”

Front Row, which recently announced an extension with Ford Performance and a beefed alliance with Team Penske, has had a monumental first two weeks of the season. Michael McDowell has two front row starts, including his first career pole in 467 starts over the weekend at Atlanta. The No. 34 car also paced the field for 27 laps on Sunday, making it the most laps the team has combined to lead in a single race at 85.

Gilliland believes it could be the beginning of something special, particularly if the team continues to bring hot rods to the track like it has the first two weeks of 2024.

“In my heart, I definitely believe that I can do it with those guys week-in and week-out,” Gilliland said of racing at the front of the field. “Our car was really fast. I was making really aggressive moves, but really in control the whole time.

“That‘s what it takes is my confidence gets more and more, and hopefully those guys‘ confidence around me gets better with every lap also. We‘ve just got to keep doing that and hopefully the better runs will come more consistently and race up front with those guys more and more.”

The Cup Series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend for the series‘ first true downforce race of the season. In four starts in Sin City, the 23-year-old has a best finish of 23rd.

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