HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Reigning NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Daniel Suarez will step up to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, replacing Carl Edwards in the No. 19 Arris Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Team owner Joe Gibbs made the news official Wednesday morning following Edwards’ announcement that he would be leaving the team effective immediately and stepping away from driving.
Suarez becomes the first full-time Mexican driver in the Cup Series.
“We started down that path and for our whole team here, the most important thing is our employees,” Gibbs explained about the process of promoting Suarez to the Cup Series. “We are one big team, for the whole family, we feel like we have one of the neatest things going. We got started and I was on airplanes for days. Daniel was the obvious choice. I can honestly say, his background and the people that work with him.”
Suarez, a 25-year-old native of Mexico, will step into an established team that nearly won the Cup Series championship last season with the No. 19 led by Dave Rogers.
“The other good thing about this, Daniel will be put with a veteran crew chief in Dave Rogers and one of the best pit crews in the business,” Gibbs said. “We are going to be putting him in the right place.”
Suarez, who became the first graduate of the NASCAR Mexico Series to win a NASCAR national series championship in November at Homestead-Miami Speedway, was humbled by the opportunity.
“This is amazing. I wasn’t expecting to me in this position right now,” said Suarez, who won the XFINITY Series title in his second full season with the Joe Gibbs Racing. “It is hard to believe that I am in this position. We started this dream 10 years ago and in this position is something amazing for me and everyone that has been helping me. I know it won’t be easy. We have a lot of work to do and a lot to learn, but Dave Rogers and the 19 team are an amazing team. It is a great place for me to be as a rookie.”
Suarez believes he’s ready to step up to the Cup Series.
“When you are with the right team, you know the opportunity will come,” he explained. “I had an amazing team last year and I ended up winning the championship. When you are in an organization like Joe Gibbs Racing you know the opportunity will come at some point. Last year helped me a lot to get ready for this opportunity…I have been in NASCAR since I was 16 and this is something I am looking forward to.”