Stewart-Haas Racing announced today that Daniel Suarez will drive the No. 41 Haas Automation/Arris Mustang this season. Suarez joins teammates Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola as part of the four-car operation. The 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion was part of a teleconference to talk about his new opportunity. Following is a complete transcript:
DANIEL SUAREZ, No. 41 Haas Automation/Arris Mustang – TALK ABOUT THIS OPPORTUNITY AND THOUGHTS JOINING SHR? "This is definitely a huge opportunity. It’s a wonderful opportunity that I believe happens once in a lifetime. To have the opportunity to join a top caliber organization like Stewart-Haas Racing with great bosses, Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, and get an opportunity to work with great teammates Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola is gonna be a lot of fun to learn from these guys and learn together and hopefully put the new Ford Mustangs up front just like everyone did last year at Stewart-Haas Racing. That’s something that is very hard to do – win races with every single car of an organization. In today’s competition it’s not easy to do and Stewart-Haas Racing was able to get it done, so I’m very proud to call myself part of this family and I’m really looking forward to working hard with my new crew chief Bill Scott and the rest of the guys to put the 41 Ford Mustang up front and hopefully to win some races."
DO YOU EVER LOOK BACK AT HOW FAR YOU’VE COME IN A SHORT TIME? AND WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU SEE WITH THIS NEW OPPORTUNITY? "There are definitely new challenges coming into this organization, a lot of new things for me – pretty much everything – and I’m excited to get up to the challenge. I’m trying to work hard to continue the success that the 41 car has had in the past. It’s been not too long since I was just a guy racing in the K&N Series, so just very proud and very grateful for a lot of opportunities and for this opportunity with a top caliber team as Stewart-Haas Racing. I have a good feeling about this year. So far, everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing has made me feel like home and we’re gonna have our first test at a race track later this week, so I feel like a lot of good things are happening so we can perform well in and out of the race track."
WHEN DID YOU START TALKING WITH STEWART-HAAS AND HAVE YOU BEEN TO THE FORD TECH CENTER YET TO WORK IN THE SIMULATOR TO GET USED TO THE NEW MUSTANG? "I have been talking with Stewart-Haas Racing for a while now. It’s been a process to get into this great organization. It’s been different from the way I’ve been working in comparison to where I came from and just to try to adapt as much as possible to the way that Billy Scott and the engineers work. I’m still learning many different things. I haven’t been in the race car at all or the simulator at all, but that is gonna change this week. I guess now that the news is official, it’s gonna be way easier to work and I won’t have to be hiding every time I go to the shop, so I feel like it’s gonna be even more comfortable. I’m happy that this day finally came and we’re able to enjoy the day a little bit and then go back to work."
ARE YOU HOPING BY GOING TO SHR THAT YOU CAN ESTABLISH YOURSELF AND BE ABLE TO DEVELOP INTO THE CUP SERIES WITHOUT HAVING TO THINK ABOUT OTHER THINGS? "I truly believe that we will. I had a great time in the last four years racing with a good organization like Joe Gibbs Racing. We did good things together winning races and winning a championship in the XFINITY Series. The move to Cup was a little bit unexpected, but that year was a good year for us in 2017. Our expectations were high in 2018 and we didn’t do a good job as a team of getting to those goals and getting those results, so I feel like a fresher start in the Cup Series and knowing the people and having a little more consistency people-wise and knowing what to expect and how to work with a good team, I feel like that is gonna help me a lot. We know this 41 team has been successful. They’ve won races and they contended for many races last year and a championship, so that tells me what this team is capable of and Billy Scott and the guys know each other very well and they’re gonna work hard to bring the same speed or even more this year with a new package and I’m sure we’re gonna deliver our goals and everything we’re expected to do for this year."
A NEW RULES PACKAGE THIS YEAR, SO DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE A GOOD THING FOR YOU AS A DRIVER? "I think it’s gonna be something different. The closest package that we have had in the past to the new 2019 package is the All-Star Race from last year. In that race I was able to do good things. We finished second with a good opportunity to win the race. The 4 car with Kevin Harvick and Stewart-Haas Racing won the race, so I feel very good about it. Hopefully, we can continue the success that we had in that race and learn as quick as possible from this package to be successful at the race track."
CAN YOU GIVE US AN IDEA OF HOW YOU’RE HANDLING ALL OF THIS CHANGE ON AND OFF THE TRACK? "There is a lot of different things for me this year. Somebody asked me what is different from last year to this year. For me, it’s everything. The rule package, the team, the race car, everything, so I’m excited. It’s gonna be a little challenge to adapt to everything, but I feel like it’s gonna be something that’s good for me. It’s some new fresh air for myself and it’s gonna be good to be able to have a good opportunity with a team like Stewart-Haas Racing and go out there and do what I have to do, which is drive fast and drive race cars. I’m excited for the opportunity. Today is a good day for many different reasons. The announcement of Stewart-Haas Racing – now I will finally be able to answer all the questions from the fans when they were asking me if I was gonna be able to race in NASCAR or not. I’m turning 27 today as well and we have 41 days left before the Daytona 500, so I feel like there is a lot of good things happening today and I’m really looking forward to enjoying today and making the day as long as possible."
HAVE YOU HAD MUCH INTERACTION WITH ANY OF YOUR NEW SHR TEAMMATES? "I have known Kevin since I was racing in the XFINITY Series. He was racing a good amount of races back then and I was always asking him for advice or asking questions. I’ve known Kevin and I think he’s known me for a few years. It’s something similar with Clint. I don’t think there’s a person in the garage area that doesn’t talk to Clint. He’s a very funny guy. I know that we’ve always had good conversations, so we have had communication in the past. With Aric, I’ve had maybe the most. We ride bicycles together sometimes. We rode our bicycles quite a bit last year and we’re good friends, so I feel like as a group we’re gonna be able to do great things together and I’m looking forward to adding my name to the family and to try to learn from these guys as quick as possible to be successful just like they were last year."
HOW DID YOU GET HOOKED UP RIDING BIKES WITH ARIC? "I’ve been riding bikes for a while and he does too, so it’s one of those things where you share something outside of racing. We don’t have a lot of time to ride bicycles, but sometimes on the race weekends we go out and ride. Aric is part of the group and I’m part of the group and we get to hang out and have a good time there."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT ARRIS COMING WITH YOU TO SHR? "Arris means a lot to myself. They’ve been supporting me since Day One in the NASCAR Series in 2015 and they have been super-good to me, super-loyal. I will say that I was a little bit nervous when everything started happening. I didn’t know what was gonna happen with them, but, luckily, they decided to work with us and follow with our plans. That’s something very good and I have nothing but great things to say with them working with myself. To be in a position that I am, it wouldn’t be possible without Haas Automation, Ford Performance and all these guys that believe in me. To be where I’m at today is something that I couldn’t ask for a better birthday present for today."
DO YOU HAVE ANY EXPECTATIONS WORKING WITH BILLY SCOTT OR JUST SEE HOW THINGS GO? "We do have expectations. Billy is a racer, too. He’s a hands-on kind of guy and he has expectations. I know what he’s able to do and and he knows what I’m able to do, so I feel like together we’ll be able to accomplish what we want and hopefully we can keep raising our expectations after that."
— Ford Performance —