Where there is smoke there is fire and the Daniel Suarez rumors have been smoking for weeks now. Today we found out there was, in fact, a fire and the third-year Cup driver will not return to the #41 in 2020.
Instead, Stewart-Haas Racing has elected to call up Xfinity standout Cole Custer to the big league in 2020.
Daniel Suarez Out
Suarez was thrust into the Cup series in 2017 after the surprise retirement announcement Carl Edwards dropped on the sport at the end of the 2016 season. Fresh off winning the Xfinity title in 2016 Suarez at that point appeared to be a suitable talent that would be able to grow into the ride and compete for wins. Unfortunately for Suarez after two seasons he was released by JGR in favor of adding Martin Truex Jr. to the team.
Armed with some sponsorship Suarez and his team landed at SHR for the 2019 season replacing Kurt Busch in the #41 car. Through 35 races this season Suarez has 11 Top-10 finishes and an average finish of 16.5. In a team that is as highly funded and competitive as SHR, you’d like to see that average a little higher. Through 107 career Cup races, Suarez only has 8 Top-5 finishes. And that in part is where the problem lies. His inability to compete for wins on a consistent basis.
Cole Custer In
For SHR and specifically Gene Haas whose company has been the primary sponsor on Suarez’s car for a majority of races this year, you want a driver who can win. That’s where Cole Custer comes into the picture. Haas has to be thinking if he’s going to fund this car out of pocket then they might as well try something different.
Cole Custer has had a breakout year in the Xfinity Series in 2019. After recording 1 win in 2017 and 1 win in 2018, Custer broke out in 2019. So far this season he has 7 wins with a shot at winning the championship this weekend in Miami.
SHR knows what Suarez can do. Custer has objectively had a better Xfinity career to this point, his ceiling appears to be much higher than the roof. It’s a smart move to bring Custer up in 2020.
Also, this will be the best rookie battle NASCAR has seen in quite some time.
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