Gaunt Brothers Racing has signed Daniel Suárez to drive its No. 96 Toyota Camry fulltime in the NASCAR Cup Series beginning with the 2020 season.
It will mark Suárez’s fourth year in the NASCAR Cup Series and a return to the manufacturer with whom the Mexican driver has enjoyed so much NASCAR success.
“It’s great to be back with Toyota and back in the NASCAR Cup Series,” said the 28-year-old Suárez, who was born in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico and now calls Huntersville, North Carolina home. “My NASCAR career started off really well and Toyota was a very big part of that. To have them in my corner again gives me a lot of confidence. Gaunt Brothers Racing has something to prove and so do I. We’re committed to each other and we’re going to build each other up.”
Suárez won the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship behind the wheel of a Joe Gibbs Racing-prepared Toyota Camry. His title-winning drive earned him a promotion to Gibbs’ NASCAR Cup Series program where he continued in Toyotas throughout the 2017 and 2018 seasons before joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2019. As the 2020 season is set to get underway, Suárez is happy to be back with the manufacturer who ushered him up the NASCAR ladder and into the elite NASCAR Cup Series.
“We are pleased that Daniel is rejoining the Toyota family in 2020,” said Ed Laukes, group vice president, marketing, Toyota Motor North America. “He has been a member of the Toyota Racing family throughout the majority of his career and contributed greatly to our shared success, most notably in winning the 2016 Xfinity Series championship. We are excited to see Gaunt Brothers Racing move to a fulltime entry next season and thrilled to have Daniel behind the wheel. We look forward to this new partnership.”
Just as Suárez knows the possibilities that exist at his new home, Gaunt Brothers Racing realizes the opportunity it now has with an experienced driver coming into his prime.
“We’ve been working toward this moment since Gaunt Brothers Racing joined the Cup Series in 2017,” said Marty Gaunt, president, Gaunt Brothers Racing. “We’ve made steady improvement every year, but bringing Daniel on board allows us to take a giant leap forward. We’re investing in each other. He’s not content to just be here and neither are we. We’ve been very strategic in everything we’ve done, and between our partnership with Toyota and the resources now available to us, we can take that next step and deliver for Daniel and all of our partners.”
Dave Winston will serve as Suárez’s crew chief. The NASCAR veteran comes to Gaunt Brothers Racing from Richard Childress Racing where he was vehicle performance group engineer and also the race engineer for driver Daniel Hemric. Winston has served as a crew chief before, spending 2014 at BK Racing with driver Alex Bowman and 2016 at Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing with driver Michael McDowell. Winston has a degree in mechanical engineering from Florida Atlantic University.
Coca-Cola and CommScope continue their respective partnerships with Suárez at Gaunt Brothers Racing. The iconic Coca-Cola brand has been with Suárez since 2015 when he won the Xfinity Series rookie-of-the-year title. CommScope, a leader in communication network technology, has been with Suárez through its ARRIS and Ruckus Networks brands since 2014 when he first competed in the Xfinity Series.
“We are excited to continue our partnership with Daniel Suárez and build a new relationship with Gaunt Brothers Racing,” said John Mount, vice president, sports marketing and region assets, Coca-Cola North America. “Daniel is a valuable member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family and he embodies the values most important to Coca-Cola. We’re looking forward to supporting Daniel in this next step of his career at Gaunt Brothers Racing.”
“CommScope solutions deliver power, speed, precision and innovation – just like a race team – and provide fans with an optimal experience as they watch NASCAR through our video, wireless and broadband technologies,” said Eddie Edwards, president and CEO, CommScope. “We wish Daniel Suárez much success this year and look forward to cheering him on at the finish line.”
Suárez’s racing career began in 2003 when he competed in go-karts. He is a two-time Mexican national karting champion (2004 and 2008) and twice earned a spot to compete in the Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals karting event – 2004 in Spain and 2008 in Italy. In 2008, he joined the mini-stock division – an official support series of the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series. Suárez won 10 races in the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series before coming stateside to compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. He kept on winning, scoring three victories in 2013 before transitioning to the Xfinity Series. His championship season in 2016 consisted of three wins, three poles and 19 top-five and 27 top-10 finishes. In winning his first career Xfinity Series race on June 11, 2016 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Suárez became the first Mexican driver to win a NASCAR national series race.
Gaunt Brothers Racing traces its roots back to 2010 when it began competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and the Canada-based NASCAR Pinty’s Series. Gaunt Brothers Racing won the 2011 Toyota All-Star Showdown with driver Jason Bowles at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway and scored the pole for the 2011 Streets of Toronto 100 with a track-record qualifying time on the city circuit, with Bowles again at the wheel.
Suárez’s first competitive outing with Gaunt Brothers Racing comes Feb. 9 with Daytona 500 qualifying starting at 12:30 p.m. EST with live coverage on FOX. His lap will determine his starting spot in the Feb. 13 Duel – twin 150-mile heat races that set the rest of the field for the Daytona 500. That event begins at 7 p.m. with live coverage on FS1. Daytona Speedweeks then culminates with the 62nd running of the Daytona 500 at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 16, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 1 p.m. All of these races can also be heard live on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (channel 90).
While eligible for the non-points Busch Clash on Feb. 9, Suárez and Gaunt Brothers Racing have opted not to compete in the exhibition race to instead focus attention on their preparation for the Daytona 500.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!