Team Preview: Joe Gibbs Racing

Joe Gibbs Racing

With the arrival of Daniel Suarez (left), Joe Gibbs Racing has an unexpected new look heading into the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series as he joins Kyle Busch (right), Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Joe Gibbs Racing has an unexpected new look heading into the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

The sudden departure of Carl Edwards elevates XFINITY Series champion Daniel Suarez to JGR’s No. 19 Toyota with Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin returning to fill out the four-car stable.

"Once we learned that Carl would not return, Daniel was the obvious choice to take the wheel," said team owner Joe Gibbs. "He's worked hard and has proven to be a quick learner. This might be a bit earlier than we anticipated, but he's earned the opportunity."

Suarez won last year’s NXS crown in only his second full season. Although he ascends to NASCAR’s top national series ahead of schedule, he's more than ready for the challenge that lies ahead.

"This is amazing. I can’t believe it. It's my dream, but I did not expect it right now," said Suárez. "I have a lot to learn, but I couldn’t ask for a better situation. I have the support of a great team."

The young driver will be surrounded by three of the most successful veterans in the sport with Busch, Kenseth and Hamlin. Busch, who is only one year removed from his first career Cup title back in 2015, is pumped about his next chance at title No. 2.

"Even though there’s one under my belt, there’s plenty more to achieve," Busch said. "We’ll fight hard. Now, there's that pressure of winning a title off my back. To be introduced as a Cup Series champion never gets old and will always be a huge honor for me."

Kenseth believes Suarez has the ability to compete and thinks JGR will again be a force to be reckoned with in 2017.

"It may take some time for him but overall, I like where we are as a group," Kenseth said.

Daytona was where Hamlin’s season got off to the best of starts last year when he won "The Great American Race." He’s hoping to repeat this year, and carry more success through the season and into the playoffs.

"We performed well in the Chase," Hamlin said of last year’s performance. "It was one of the few years where we weren’t taken out by something crazy happening. A sixth-place average finish (in the Chase) usually gets you to the 'Final Four,' but we had three guys win and that’s something that’s never happened in that round before."

Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" - will air a one-hour special titled "MRN 2017 Season Setup" on Monday at 7 p.m. (ET) to preview the 2016 season. Daytona International Speedway will open for NASCAR teams this Friday with the season-opening Daytona 500 scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 26. Motor Racing Network will have live coverage of "The Great American Race" beginning at 1 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com and on the MRN App. 

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