NASCAR Cup: Daniel Suarez officially named Carl Edwards’ replacement
Daniel Suarez with gis 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship trophy at Homestead-Miami Speedway (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
After Carl Edwards spoke to media members Wednesday morning at Joe Gibbs Racing in Huntersville, N.C., to announce his retirement from full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition, a separate press conference was held at JGR to officially name Daniel Suarez as the new driver of the No. 19 Toyota vacated by Edwards.
Reports of Suarez’s new position came on Tuesday, along with the news of Edwards retirement.
“This is amazing,” Suarez said. “I wasn’t expecting to be in this position right now. It’s been an amazing time. This is just hard to believe that I’m in this position.”
With the announcement, Suarez becomes the first Mexican-born driver with a full-time ride at NASCAR’s top level.
Suarez is the reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series champion. Before Edwards’ announcement, Suarez was slated to continue as driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in that series to defend his title in 2017. Suarez is expected to run a partial Xfinity Series schedule in addition to his first full-time Cup season. According to car owner Joe Gibbs, Suarez will probably drive in approximately 10 Xfinity races. With Suarez’s lack of experience at the Cup level, NASCAR’s recently-announced limitations on Cup drivers in Xfinity Series races don’t apply to Suarez, except for him being forbidden from racing in that series’ season-finale.
The season-opening Daytona 500, scheduled for Feb. 26 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, will be Suarez’s first-career points-paying Cup Series race.
“I know it won’t be easy,” Suarez said. “I have a lot to learn, but I’m sure that it can happen with Dave Rogers (crew chief) and the entire No. 19 group. It’s just an amazing team. I feel like this is just a perfect place for a rookie like me.”
Suarez spent two seasons racing full-time in the Xfinity Series, both for JGR. He also ran two races for JGR in 2014. In all, Suarez has 68 races of experience in the Xfinity Series. He has three-career Xfinity Series wins, all coming in his championship season of 2016.
Suarez also has NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, running 27 races between 2014 and 2016. He has one-career Truck Series win, also coming last season.
Suarez will work with a familiar sponsor in Arris. Arris, the primary sponsor of JGR’s No. 19 entry in the Cup Series, also was Suarez’s sponsor on the No. 19 Xfinity Series car.