Some may call Daniel Suarez’ quick rise up the ladder to a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series seat with Joe Gibbs Racing a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” But, the birthday boy on Monday is saying it is actually his move to Stewart-Haas Racing for the upcoming season as one.
The news became official on Monday morning when SHR announced that Suarez, 27, would be driving the No. 41 Ford for the organization for 2019. While it’s definitely a nice landing spot, it’s one that Suarez also sees as one he can immediately compete in too.
“This is definitely a huge opportunity,” said Suarez about the move. “It’s a wonderful opportunity that I believe happens once in a lifetime. To have the opportunity to join a top caliber organization like Stewart-Haas Racing with great bosses, Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, and get an opportunity to work with great teammates Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola is gonna be a lot of fun to learn from these guys and learn together and hopefully put the new Ford Mustangs up front just like everyone did last year at Stewart-Haas Racing. That’s something that is very hard to do – win races with every single car of an organization. In today’s competition it’s not easy to do and Stewart-Haas Racing was able to get it done, so I’m very proud to call myself part of this family and I’m really looking forward to working hard with my new crew chief Bill Scott and the rest of the guys to put the 41 Ford Mustang up front and hopefully to win some races.”
SHR has been a winning organization. A lot in fact. Last year, all four drivers reached victory lane at least once with the team totaling 12 in total. All four made it to the Round of 8 too, meaning this could be Suarez’ turn around season.
“I truly believe that we will,” Suarez said on contending. “I had a great time in the last four years racing with a good organization like Joe Gibbs Racing. We did good things together winning races and winning a championship in the XFINITY Series.
“The move to Cup was a little bit unexpected, but that year was a good year for us in 2017. Our expectations were high in 2018 and we didn’t do a good job as a team of getting to those goals and getting those results, so I feel like a fresher start in the Cup Series and knowing the people and having a little more consistency people-wise and knowing what to expect and how to work with a good team, I feel like that is gonna help me a lot.
“We know this 41 team has been successful. They’ve won races and they contended for many races last year and a championship, so that tells me what this team is capable of and Billy Scott and the guys know each other very well and they’re gonna work hard to bring the same speed or even more this year with a new package and I’m sure we’re gonna deliver our goals and everything we’re expected to do for this year.”
The reason we’re talking about Suarez on Monday is because in my opinion, he was rushed up too quickly and didn’t have enough time when he was to hone his skills. He didn’t have the ARCA, Truck Series and XFINITY Series rise to the top. He made select starts in the lower levels and immediately went into a couple of full seasons in XFINITY. Then, Carl Edwards unexpectedly decided to retire in January of 2017 and Suarez was promoted to a Cup ride, one that was so strong prior. Edwards, won five times in two years including making to the Championship 4 in 2016. Suarez, had just four top fives and 21 top 10’s in two seasons. He only led 75 total laps in his time with JGR too. All the while, he constantly had a revolving door of crew chiefs.
This is exactly how Joey Logano fared with JGR. Granted, he was given more years than Suarez, but he didn’t deliver quick enough and was given up on.
Logano, was dubbed as the “Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread” early on in his racing career. He had 19 career NASCAR starts before showing up to 2009 Daytona Speedweeks as a Cup Series driver with JGR. He was only 18 years old at the time. As you can see, he had a lot of learning to do at such a young age.
By 2012, his welcome was worn out. In four full time seasons, Logano had won just twice. He also only had 16 top 10 finishes and 41 top 10’s in that time frame. What did you expect though? JGR thought he’d not have much of a downward gap between him and Tony Stewart, the guy he was replacing. I mean, the expectations put on an 18 year old were too great. He was only 22 years old by time JGR said bye bye.
Suarez, is Logano Part II.
The new aeropackage could speed this process up for him too. While changing into a new aero package could potentially hurt Suarez and SHR’s success in 2019, it may actually in turn favor him. The closest thing to compare this new package to is the All-Star race last year and that’s one that Suarez finished runner-up in. The driver to beat him?
His new teammate, Kevin Harvick.
“I think it’s gonna be something different,” said Suarez on his thoughts on this new rules package. “The closest package that we have had in the past to the new 2019 package is the All-Star Race from last year. In that race I was able to do good things. We finished second with a good opportunity to win the race. The 4 car with Kevin Harvick and Stewart-Haas Racing won the race, so I feel very good about it. Hopefully, we can continue the success that we had in that race and learn as quick as possible from this package to be successful at the race track.”
Suarez says that he does expect challenges in transitioning into a new team but he does expect better results.