Daniel Suarez’s tenure with Stewart-Haas Racing only lasted a single season.
After multiple reports emerged Thursday that Suarez was out of the No. 41 car at the end of the year, Stewart-Haas Racing made it official on Friday. The team said Suarez would be replaced by Cole Custer.
A message for my fans 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/GrnRGAmpFa— Daniel Suárez (@Daniel_SuarezG) November 14, 2019
Suarez came to SHR after two seasons at Joe Gibbs Racing. Suarez became the odd man out at JGR when Martin Truex Jr. came over after Furniture Row Racing folded.
Truex’s arrival led at JGR led an arranged marriage of sorts at Stewart-Haas, which had a seat to fill in the No. 41 with Kurt Busch heading over to Chip Ganassi Racing.
The partnership led to Suarez having the best points season of his career. He’s currently 17th in the standings and his four top-five finishes in 35 starts this season are the most he’s had in a single season. Yet he didn’t have a full-season sponsor or enough funding for the team to not have a significant funding gap. And that was apparently the tipping point.
'@StewartHaasRcng has decided to elevate @ColeCuster to the 41 in 2020 to replace @Daniel_SuarezG, per source, as @Jim_Utter first reported.— Adam Stern (@A_S12) November 14, 2019
√ SHR weighed keeping Suarez if he delivered proper financing but made a final decision in the last day or so to move in a new direction. pic.twitter.com/DBrmGponO0
Custer doesn’t have a full-season sponsor either. He’s been sponsored by team co-owner Gene Haas’ company in 13 of 32 Xfinity Series races in 2019. But he’s also the son of Stewart-Haas Racing executive Joe Custer and, presumably, would command a lesser salary.
Custer, 21, has been really good this season in the Xfinity Series. He’s one of the four drivers racing for the title on Saturday and has won seven races with 23 top-10 finishes so far. He’ll also join two of the drivers he’s racing for the title in the Cup Series in 2020. Christopher Bell is moving to the No. 95 car at Leavine Family Racing and Tyler Reddick will drive the No. 8 car at Richard Childress Racing in 2020.
“I was asked last year about this time what Cole needed to do to earn his place in the NASCAR Cup Series, and I said he needed to win,” SHR co-owner Gene Haas said in a statement. “Well, Cole has done that – a lot. He showed that he’s ready to compete at the next level and we’re giving him that opportunity.”
Tony Stewart echoed the support for Custer to move up to the Cup Series.
“Cole has certainly earned his spot in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2020,” Stewart said. “He’s consistently running up front, leading laps and winning races. The level of competition increases dramatically in the NASCAR Cup Series, but it’s where Cole belongs after having proven himself in the Xfinity Series.”
It’s unclear at the moment where Suarez would end up in 2020. The 2016 Xfinity Series champion was elevated to the Cup Series hastily in 2017 after Carl Edwards surprisingly retired. Suarez has 32 top-10 finishes in 107 career Cup Series starts.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports
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