Multiple published reports put displaced NASCAR Cup Series driver Daniel Suarez behind the wheel of the #96 Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota for 2020. The race team made the move official Tuesday.
“We’ve been working toward this moment since Gaunt Brothers Racing joined the Cup Series in 2017,” Gaunt Brothers Racing President Marty Gaunt said. “We’ve made steady improvement every year, but bringing Daniel on board allows us to take a giant leap forward. We’re investing in each other. He’s not content to just be here and neither are we. We’ve been very strategic in everything we’ve done, and between our partnership with Toyota and the resources now available to us, we can take that next step and deliver for Daniel and all of our partners.”
The 2020 season will be Gaunt Brothers Racing’s first full-time season in the Cup Series after competing in the series part-time since 2017. The team has contested 38 races the last three seasons, including 14 races with Parker Kligerman and one with Drew Herring last season. The team has yet to finish a race in the top-10.
Joining Gaunt Brothers Racing reunites Suarez with Toyota. After winning the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2016, Suarez was promoted to the Cup Series by JGR ahead of the 2017 season to replace the retired Carl Edwards. He drove the #19 JGR Toyota for two years before being replaced by 2017 Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. ahead of the 2019 season.
“It’s great to be back with Toyota and back in the NASCAR Cup Series,” Suarez said. “My NASCAR career started off really well, and Toyota was a very big part of that. To have them in my corner again gives me a lot of confidence. Gaunt Brothers Racing has something to prove and so do I. We’re committed to each other and we’re going to build each other up.”
Last season, Suarez drove the #41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, but he was replaced by Cole Custer during the offseason. He finished 17th in the 2019 driver points standings, highest among drivers not in the playoffs. He had four top-fives and 11 top-10s in 36 races.
Suarez had 108-career starts in the Cup Series, resulting in eight top-fives and 32 top-10 finishes.
Gaunt Brothers Racing also confirmed the hiring of Dave Winston as Suarez’s crew chief. He was a race engineer at Richard Childress Racing last season. His Cup Series crew chief experience includes stints with BK Racing in 2014 and Leavine Family Racing in 2016.