Friday, 21 February 2020

NASCAR: Out of a ride, what’s next for Daniel Suarez? – Beyond the Flag

NASCAR: Out of a ride, what’s next for Daniel Suarez? – Beyond the Flag
18 Dec

Having lost his NASCAR Cup Series ride with Stewart-Haas Racing after just one season, what is next for former Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suarez?

Before the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season ended, Daniel Suarez felt confident about his odds of remaining behind the wheel of the #41 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing in the 2020 season.

The 27-year-old Mexican replaced Kurt Busch at the four-car Ford team ahead of the 2019 season after being replaced by Martin Truex Jr. behind the wheel of the #19 Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing after spending two seasons, the first two seasons of his Cup Series career, driving for Joe Gibbs’s four-car Toyota organization.

However, with just one race remaining on the 36-race 2019 schedule, Stewart-Haas Racing confirmed that Suarez would not be back with the team next year.

Cole Custer, who drove for the Stewart-Haas Racing Xfinity Series team from the 2017 season through the 2019 season, was confirmed as his replacement.

After winning a total of only two races in the 2017 and 2018 seasons, he had a breakout year in 2019, winning seven times.

As a result, Suarez is without a ride for the second time in as many years.

So what’s next for the 2016 Xfinity Series champion?

At first, it was believed that Suarez could still end up competing full-time in the Cup Series next year, as there were still several rides available.

Given how much team co-owner Tony Stewart reportedly lobbied for his return but to no avail, Go Fas Racing seemed like a viable option. The one-car Ford team formed a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing ahead of the 2020 season.

However, Corey LaJoie was confirmed for a second season behind the wheel of the #32 Ford.

Additionally, with Custer set to replace him, that opened up a seat at the Stewart-Haas Racing Xfinity Series team.

Chase Briscoe, who drove for the team alongside Custer in the 2019 season, has always been speculated to return. Briscoe is set to be confirmed by the team for the 2020 season in the near future, according to Frontstretch.

But there will be no second full-time car.

Finally, Front Row Motorsports seemed like they could be an option. The three-car Ford team had nobody under contract following a crazy 2019 season that saw Matt Tifft and the team part ways after he suffered a seizure and David Ragan announce his impending retirement before officially stepping away.

However, that also won’t happen.

John Hunter Nemechek, who replaced Tifft in three of the four races he missed at the end of the 2019 season, was confirmed as Ragan’s replacement while the #36 team of which Tifft was a part ended up being cut. It was confirmed that Michael McDowell, their other driver, would be back in 2020, setting their now two-car lineup.

With all of his reasonable Cup Series options seemingly shot, where will Suarez end up?

There is still one key ride on the table, and that one ride is the ride that has been rumored as his most likely landing spot all along — the Richard Childress Racing Xfinity Series team.

Richard Childress Racing have confirmed three drivers for their team at NASCAR’s second highest level next year, including Myatt Snider, Anthony Alfredo and full-time Cup Series driver Austin Dillon.

None of these three drivers, however, are set to drive full-time. They are all set to share time behind the wheel of the #21 Chevrolet.

Their lone car designated for a full-time driver, the #2 Chevrolet, remains open.

Tyler Reddick drove the #2 Chevrolet to his second consecutive championship in what was his first and only season with the team, as he was promoted to the Cup Series within the Richard Childress Racing organization to replace Daniel Hemric behind the wheel of the #8 Chevrolet alongside Dillon in the #3 Chevrolet.

It’s no secret that Suarez, while he did win the 2016 Xfinity Series championship, was somewhat rushed to the Cup Series. He only ended up at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2017 because of the fact that Carl Edwards unexpectedly announced his retirement the month before the season started.

It’s not like Suarez doesn’t have potential. But perhaps he needs a bit more time in the Xfinity Series to fully uncover that potential. Might Richard Childress Racing be the team to give him that opportunity after three consecutive winless and playoff-less seasons driving for top-tier Cup Series teams?

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Having lost his ride with Stewart-Haas Racing ahead of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season and with many of what were seen as his other options, including Go Fas Racing, the Stewart-Haas Racing Xfinity Series team and Front Row Motorsports, seemingly off the table, where will Daniel Suarez end up next year? Will he replace Tyler Reddick at Richard Childress Racing in the ride that won the 2019 title? Don’t rule it out.



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