While Daniel Suarez is not angry, he admits to being a little disappointed and surprised to lose his ride at Stewart-Haas Racing.
“A lot of people have worked very hard on this team to try to put everything together, and unfortunately, it wasn’t enough,” said Suarez. “We knew that a few months ago we had to find a big amount of money to keep the ride for next year. My group of people and friends and a lot of people at Stewart-Haas Racing went to work, and we actually did a pretty good job.
“We pretty much got the goal, but unfortunately, part of the money wasn’t on the table at this point. It was going to come a few months later and it wasn’t enough. It was a little unfortunate. It was a surprise. I was as shocked as you guys are probably right now. It is what it is — one door closes, another opens.”
Suarez noted the optimism he expressed over the last few months when about a new deal “because I knew where we were.” He felt “95 percent sure” that he was in the seat for the 2020 season and said team co-owner Tony Stewart was also “pushing for me so hard,” as were others at SHR.
“Unfortunately, things didn’t work out with [Gene] Haas,” said Suarez.
Speaking earlier in the day during the Championship 4 team owner media availability, Stewart expressed his belief in Suarez as a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver. There is hope that SHR can work with Suarez to find a solution that would keep him in the organization. However, Stewart said Haas “controls” the 41 car, and it was ultimately his decision on the driver change.
“Tony is a great guy,” said Suarez. “In the last six months, I have learned that he is a very good friend. In the last week, I have been talking to him a lot. He was talking to a lot of people, and he was pushing very hard for me. Unfortunately, the 41 team, and especially the 41, he doesn’t have a lot that he can do with that car because the 41 is not his car.
“He pushed. I am sure that he pushed as hard as he could, like a lot of people at Stewart-Haas Racing did. It just didn’t work out.”
Suarez admitted he doesn’t know what he is going to do in the future, and there are a lot of things going through his mind. Since it has only been about 36 hours since Suarez was informed, he hasn’t yet thought about the race this weekend but will try to enjoy the last event of the year.
The 27-year-old reiterated losing his ride was about funding, not results, and that the timing wasn’t right when it came to raising the money needed. Multiple times Suarez mentioned Stewart and the other SHR individuals who tried to help him.
In 107 career starts, Suarez has 32 top-10 finishes and four top-five finishes. This year Suarez has led more laps in a single season than he had in his last two years combined and will likely earn a career-best finish in the overall point standings.
“I don’t know,” said Suarez when asked when he thought a decision had been made. “All I can tell you is that we thought we were going to be fine, and all of a sudden, we were not. Probably a decision was already made, and I didn’t know.”