Daniel Suárez has finally found a ride. On Tuesday, Gaunt Brothers Racing announced he will drive the team’s #96 Toyota Camry for the full 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season. It will be GBR’s first foray into full-time racing, while Suárez joins his third Cup team in the last three seasons.
“It’s great to be back with Toyota and back in the NASCAR Cup Series,” Suárez stated. “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.”
The 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion lost his ride with Stewart-Haas Racing after the 2019 season as Cole Custer moves up from said series. In his only year with the team and the Ford stable, he finished seventeenth in points with eleven top-ten finishes and a best run of third on two occasions. Before SHR, he spent two seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota, where he finished twentieth and twenty-first in the standings.
GBR has raced part-time at the Cup level since 2017 with an assortment of drivers, but primarily with Parker Kligerman behind the wheel. After débuting at the 2018 Coca-Cola 600, the current NBC analyst has eighteen total starts for the team, fourteen of which came in 2019. His best finish is fifteen at the 2019 Daytona 500 and fall Talladega Superspeedway races; both runs are also his Cup bests. Kligerman confirmed he would not return to GBR earlier in the month.
“We’ve been working toward this moment since Gaunt Brothers Racing joined the Cup Series in 2017,” team owner Marty Gaunt said. “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.“
Although GBR will run the full schedule, the team does not possess a charter. Without one, the team is at risk of failing to qualify for races if an entry list contains more than forty drivers. However, DNQs have been rare in recent times due to standard Cup field sizes; in 2019, only two drivers failed to qualify, both coming at the Daytona 500 which typically draws larger grids. GBR has also enjoyed qualifying success, with their lone DNQ coming during their inaugural season.
Coca-Cola and CommScope will sponsor the #96. Both have been longtime partners of Suárez’s, with the latter previously sponsoring him through the Arris brand.