If he drives for Stewart-Haas Racing as Kurt Busch’s replacement in the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season, Daniel Suarez will have a lot to prove.
Former Joe Gibbs Racing driver Daniel Suarez has been tipped to replace Kurt Busch behind the wheel of the #41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series going back to several months before Busch confirmed that he would not be returning to Stewart-Haas Racing in the 2019 season and that he would instead be joining Chip Ganassi Racing as Jamie McMurray’s replacement behind the wheel of the #1 Chevrolet.
After several months of speculation, it appears likely that the 26-year-old Mexican will officially be named the replacement for the 40-year-old Las Vegas, Nevada native behind the wheel of the #41 Ford early next week.
If Suarez is confirmed as Busch’s replacement behind the wheel of the #41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford for the 2019 season like he is expected to be, he will undoubtedly have a lot to prove, and the 2019 season could very well end up being a make or break season for him.
It is no secret that Suarez struggled in his two seasons driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.
As a result, it was not surprising when Martin Truex Jr. was named his replacement behind the wheel of the #19 Toyota after Furniture Row Racing, the team for which Truex Jr. drove the #78 Toyota, announced that they would be shutting down following the conclusion of the 2018 season.
This was especially the case considering the fact that Furniture Row Racing formed a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing ahead of the 2016 season and maintained it with them before shutting down after the 2018 season ended.
Suarez recorded only four top five finishes, 21 top 10 finishes and one pole position in his 72 races driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, and he led only 75 of the 19,766 laps that he completed. He recorded an average starting position of 15.7 and an average finishing position of 17.4. He finished in 20th place in the championship standings in the 2017 season, and he finished in 21st in the standings in the 2018 season.
In both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, three of Joe Gibbs Racing’s four drivers qualified for the playoffs. In both of those seasons, Suarez was the only one of the team’s drivers who failed to do so.
Among the five drivers who drove for the team in both (Suarez, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin) or either one of those two seasons (Matt Kenseth in 2017 and Erik Jones in 2018), he was the only one who failed to win a single race driving for them in this two-year span.
Meanwhile, all four of Stewart-Haas Racing’s drivers not only qualified for the playoffs last season, but they all advanced to the round of 8. They combined to earn a series-high 12 victories throughout the season.
As the driver of the #41 Ford, Busch finished the season having earned one victory, six top five finishes, 22 top 10 finishes, five pole positions, 644 laps led, an average starting position of 8.8 and an average finishing position of 12.1. He finished the season in a seventh place tie in the championship standings.
Suarez publicly stated that he never felt that he had what it took to win races while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. This statement was criticized by many fans, and seemingly justifiably so considering the fact that Joe Gibbs Racing are one of the sport’s top-tier teams and the fact that their drivers have combined to earn 17 victories during his time driving for the team.
That said, having success driving for Stewart-Haas Racing — assuming, of course, that he replaces Busch behind the wheel of the #41 Ford for the 2019 season — could prove Suarez right and silence his critics. But if he struggles, it will be hard for there to be any more excuses made regarding his lack of success.
With all things considered, the 2019 season could be a make or break season for Suarez. Landing a ride with Stewart-Haas Racing would mean that he would have a lot to prove, and it appears that this is what is going to end up happening.
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Assuming that Daniel Suarez ends up replacing Kurt Busch behind the wheel of the #41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford for the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season like he is expected to, will he thrive and prove his critics wrong, or will he continue to struggle? Will he do enough for the team to retain him as the driver of the #41 Ford for future seasons?
Sunday, February 17 is the date on which the 36-race 2019 season is scheduled to get underway. Fox is scheduled to broadcast the 61st annual Daytona 500 live at 2:30 p.m. ET from Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida on this date.