After just one season at the Stewart-Haas Racing NASCAR Cup Series team, Daniel Suarez was replaced by Stewart-Haas Racing Xfinity Series driver Cole Custer behind the wheel of the #41 Ford ahead of the 2020 season.
With all things considered, this did not come as a huge surprise. He was replaced by Martin Truex Jr. behind the wheel of the #19 Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing ahead of the 2019 season after two seasons as the lone driver within the four-car team who failed to qualify for the playoffs.
At a new top-tier four-car team, he again found himself as the lone driver outside the playoff bubble, and after three years competing for top-tier teams, he is winless in 108 career starts.
But as far as Suarezâs belief, it was a different story. The 28-year-old Mexican felt confident about his chances to return to Stewart-Haas Racing in the 2020 season, and he stated publicly that this was the case on multiple occasions.
As such, he was surprised when it turned out that he would be replaced by Custer. He believed that the funding was there to extend his stint behind the wheel of the #41 Ford by at least another year.
But they went with Custer anyway, and Suarez was left without a ride.
Because Suarez was believed to have a considerable amount of funding to the point where he very easily could have remained with Stewart-Haas Racing for another year, several possible landing spots emerged after he was released.
They included Front Row Motorsports, the newly Stewart-Haas Racing-affiliated Go Fas Racing, and Stewart-Haas Racing in the Xfinity Series.
But all of those teams are now full for the 2020 season, and the rumored most likely landing spot for Suarez has been the Richard Childress Racing Xfinity Series team for the last several weeks, as they have yet to name the replacement for 2019 champion Tyler Reddick, who is set to join their Cup Series team, behind the wheel of the #2 Chevrolet.
However, a new option has emerged, and it is believed that while all the confirmed full-time Cup Series rides are occupied, at least those slated to have just one full-time driver, another full-time Cup Series entry could be fielded thanks to the fact that Suarez is slated to continue to receive financial backing from Coca-Cola.
With Toyota still interested in him even after his Joe Gibbs Racing departure, that option is Gaunt Brothers Racing, the lone Toyota-only team aside of Joe Gibbs Racing and the Joe Gibbs Racing-affiliated Leavine Family Racing.
Gaunt Brothers Racing opened in 2010 and have competed in the Cup Series on a part-time basis since the 2018 season after making their debut one year earlier in the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
They have never competed on a full-time basis, however. In 2018, they fielded the #96 Toyota for four drivers in a combined 22 races on the 36-race schedule. In 2019, they fielded the same car for two drivers in a combined 15 races on the schedule.
While they do not have a charter and are not by any means a top-tier team, Gaunt Brothers Racing have shown that they have what it takes to consistently finish in the top 30, many times in the top 25, ahead of many of the other backmarker teams, and a full-time program could allow them to make even bigger gains.
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Will Daniel Suarez end up competing full-time for Gaunt Brothers Racing behind the wheel of the #96 Toyota in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season?