Suarez Moving to Cup in '19' Ride
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on January 11, 2017 | 11:30 A.M. EST
"This is amazing. I wasn't expecting to be in this position right now."
Daniel Suarez will move up to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series to drive the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
The 2016 XFINITY Series champion will replace Carl Edwards, who announced he will be stepping away from racing in the Cup Series.
"This is amazing," Suarez said on stage during the press conference at Joe Gibbs Racing. "I wasn't expecting to be in this position right now. It's been an amazing time. This is hard to believe that I'm in this position. We started all this dream 10 years ago with NASCAR, and right now to be in this position, to be in this opportunity is just something amazing for me and for everyone that has been helping me, of course.
"I know that it won't be easy. We have a lot to work. I have a lot to learn. But I'm sure that it couldn't happen in a better situation with Dave Rogers and the entire 19 group It's just an amazing team. I feel like it's just a perfect place to be for a rookie like me that is really hungry to learn and to go out there and to perform well."
Suarez first received a phone call about the opportunity to drive in the No. 19 in the Cup Series when he was at lunch with his girlfriend and her family.
"I had to jump out of the middle of lunch, and then I never came back after 40 minutes," Suarez said. "And then when I came back, Silvia and her parents, they were asking me what was going on because I came back with a smile like this. So they were asking me what was going on. Well, really I wasn't able to say anything, so I didn't say anything."
"It was just an amazing moment. I wasn't expecting that at all."
Suarez will get to drive his new Cup ride for the first time during the NASCAR organizational test at Phoenix International Raceway on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.
"The problem with what happened here, there's just not many opportunities to get Daniel now in the Cup car, which he hasn't been in before," said team owner Joe Gibbs. "We want to do everything we can to maximize the test that we have coming at the end of the month."
Along with his new Cup Series ride, Suarez will still run some XFINITY Series races.
"What we're going to do is talk it over with Dave and everybody else and Daniel, and we're going to kind of adjust his schedule on what we think is best," Gibbs said. "You know, I think right now we're around 10 races or something, but we could go either way with that, and we really just want to do what's best for Daniel in preparing him for Cup.
"We've got our other Cup drivers that are going to be chipping in on it, but it's going to be pretty much Dave's decision on how much we do."
Suarez, who recently celebrated his 25th birthday, capped last year's championship season with a victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He entered the inaugural XFINITY Series Chase as the No. 3 seed and totaled 27 top-10 finishes in 33 starts. Besides the win in South Florida, Suarez posted victories at Dover and Michigan International Speedway.
Suarez - a native of Monterrey, Mexico - won Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR Mexico Series in 2010 and the XFINITY Series in 2015. He also has experience in the K&N Pro Series, one of the sport's top developmental tours.