NASCAR Cup Series

Daniel Suarez not returning to Gaunt Brothers Racing after 2020

2 Mins read
Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Daniel Suárez is job hunting… again.

On Tuesday, Suárez announced he will not return to Gaunt Brothers Racing after the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season. Wherever he lands in 2021 will be his fourth ride in as many years.

“Unfortunately, I won’t be returning to Gaunt Brothers Racing and the #96 Toyota Camry next season,” Suárez began in a video he posted on social media. A Spanish-language version was also provided. “I want to start this video by thanking Toyota for everything that they have done for me in the past, and especially this year. This year, they helped me and believed in me, putting this project and team together. […]

“Marty Gaunt and everyone at Gaunt Brothers Racing, they have been working super hard every day, trying to do a lot with a little. That’s the way I grew up. I grew up racing go-karts, doing a lot with a little. I’m very proud of our efforts, what we have done with the stuff that we have. I also want to wish Gaunt Brothers Racing nothing but the best for the future. At the same time, I don’t really know what the future holds for myself just yet, so you guys stay tuned for those news.”

It has been a tumultuous Cup career for Suárez, who raced for three different teams from 2018 to 2020. After spending two years with Joe Gibbs Racing, during which he never finished higher than twentieth in points, he moved to Stewart-Haas Racing for 2019 as his JGR ride was filled by Martin Truex Jr. Although he improved statistically from his final season at JGR and finished seventeenth in the standings, he was once again ousted in favour of rookie Cole Custer.

The 2016 Xfinity Series champion eventually returned to the Toyota camp and GBR, which began racing on a full-time basis for the first time in its history in 2020. Following a rough start to the 2020 season in which he failed to qualify for the Daytona 500 after being caught in a wreck and mechanical issues in his GBR début at Las Vegas on the opening lap, Suárez has been a model of consistency. In twenty-seven starts so far, the lone race he failed to finish was the regular season finale at Daytona when he was collected in a late crash. He is currently thirty-first in points with three top-twenty finishes, including a best run of eighteenth at Bristol and Kansas.

While his 2021 plans are unknown, some have raised the #43 of Richard Petty Motorsports as a possible landing with Bubba Wallace leaving the team after 2020. David Smith of Forbes noted that team co-owner Andrew Murstein has a preference for minority drivers, having fielded the #43 for Aric Almirola, who is Cuban-American, and Wallace, a black racer. As such, Smith suggested Suárez, a Mexican and graduate of the Drive for Diversity program, as one of the top candidates for the ride, though Ty Dillon (whose Germain Racing team’s future is in doubt) and Brandon Jones (who carries sponsorship) are also possible suitors.

Incidentally, Jim Utter of Motorsport.com reported shortly after Suárez’s announcement that Wallace could end up at Gaunt. Wallace, also a former member of Gibbs camp in the lower series, has been speculated as partnering with JGR’s Denny Hamlin for a new operation run by the latter by investing into GBR. The Sports Business Journal‘s Adam Stern tweeted Monday that Hamlin is a candidate to acquire Germain’s assets; although JGR meets the four-car limit, Hamlin is allowed to run his own team in addition to racing for JGR provided the two organisations are independent.

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