Daniel Suarez met with media members at Homestead-Miami Speedway Friday afternoon to discuss the news that Sunday will be his final race in the No. 41 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing.
TAKE US THROUGH WHAT CAME DOWN THIS WEEK AND HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT IT:
DANIEL SUAREZ: "I am a little disappointed. A lot of people have worked very hard on this team to try to put everything together and unfortunately it wasn’t enough. We needed a few months. We had to find a big amount of money to keep the ride for next year. My group of people, 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, just a couple of nights ago. It is what it is. One door closes, another door opens."
QUESTION INAUDIBLE: "It has been less than 36 hours since I found out. Like I said, I have been talking with most of you for the last few weeks and I am pretty sure that most of you saw me very confident because I knew where we were. I was 95% sure that we were in. I thought we were in good shape. I was extremely surprised. A lot of people at Stewart-Haas Racing worked very hard to put everything together. It was disappointing to see that. Tony Stewart was pushing for me so hard. Brett Frood, a lot of people in Stewart-Haas Racing. Unfortunately things didn’t work out with Haas."
THIS IS TWO YEARS IN A ROW FOR YOU. CAN YOU GUT HANDLE ANY MORE PUNCHES? "I am pretty strong. I have had a lot of sacrifices in my life to be here. Not just when I came here to the US, but even before that. To stay in racing and to do a lot of different things. As many of you know, I don’t come from a race family or from a lot of money or have a lot of contacts or anything like that. I am here because of myself. This has been tough. It is not fun to be in this position. I feel like I am strong and it has been a little difficult the last 24-hours. I couldn’t believe it because we did find a big amount of money. This is the position we are in now but I think good things happen to good people and I am sure good things are going to line up for me."
TONY SAID HE WOULD LIKE TO TRY TO HELP YOU, THAT HE WOULD LIKE TO HELP IN ANY WAY THAT HE CAN. ARE THEY SAYING THAT, OR DO YOU BELIEVE THEY COULD STEP IN AND HELP FIND SOMETHING? "Tony is a great guy. 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."
CAN HE HELP NOW SOMEHOW? "I had a conversation with him earlier today. He is trying to help me stay in the family. I don’t know what I am going to do yet. There are a lot of things going through my head right now and I don’t know. I don’t even know if I want to be here. That is the way it is. I have to get back on my feet and find the best option for myself."
QUESTION INAUDIBLE: "I am not angry, I was just not expecting it. I was not expecting this. I am a little disappointed. I would say that. Quite a bit disappointed. Especially because in the last few months I have worked extremely hard outside of the race track. The last few months I have been focusing more outside the race car than inside the race car to make this happen. Things actually happened. We were in good shape. It is very hard to just write a check and put it on somebody’s desk. It doesn’t work like that. It is impossible. They put the bar very high for me and my group to find money but we did it. But just the timing wasn’t right."
EDSEL FORD SAID HE WOULD LIKE TO KEEP YOU IN THE FORD FOLD. HE SAID HE WAS GOING TO SIT DOWN AND TALK WITH YOU ABOUT SOME OF YOUR OPTIONS. "Yeah, I have a meeting with Mark Rushbrook from Ford Performance earlier today and they were as surprised as I was. We all knew that it wasn’t secure but we also knew all the work we had been doing and where we were at and how we were moving forward. It is just a difficult position to be in. Ford Performance has been great to me. Edsel is an amazing person and it has been an amazing pleasure to race for him and to call him a friend now. Like I said, everything has been very recent and I don’t know what is going to happen. A lot of things have been going on. I am sure that we will find the time to sit down and talk and find the best solution and best option for myself."
IF YOU WOULD HAVE GOTTEN IN THE PLAYOFFS, WOULD YOU HAVE HAD THIS RIDE NEXT YEAR? DID YOU RAISE ANY MONEY OR NONE? "Maybe a lot of people don’t believe this but this wasn’t a problem of results. This wasn’t because we didn’t perform. Kevin Harvick is an amazing driver with an amazing team and has been doing an amazing job and that is why he is here today, fighting for a championship. But if you think about it, we have been racing along the other two cars very even the whole year even though we were a new team. We have had issues with pit crew and changed the pit crew around several times this year to improve. That is the sad part for myself, that I have spent a lot of time working with my team to make my team better and changed the pit crew many times and moved people around and the spotter and a couple other things. I felt like we finally got everything clicking better the last month, month-and-a-half to be stronger. Now everything is coming apart. Honestly, I feel like that has been my Cup career so far. I have been in the Cup Series for two years but I haven’t had six months of consistency in my Cup career. I am sure I will catch a break at one point."
DID YOU HAVE SOME OF THE SPONSORSHIP? DID YOU RAISE ANY MONEY OR NOTHING? "For next year? Several millions. This was — I don’t know. We had a goal to get X amount of money and we pretty much got there but part of the money was going to come in a few months from now and that was the biggest part."
DID YOU MEET YOUR OBLIGATION OR SHARE THAT YOU NEEDED TO RAISE? "We raised a good amount of money. We did for the most part. We were almost there but the other part was going to come later and it just wasn’t enough."
THIS SAME THING HAPPENED WITH KURT (BUSCH) LAST YEAR: "It is a very tough position to be in because I know how hard a lot of people in Stewart-Haas Racing worked for me. Brett Frood, Tony Stewart, Mike Verlander and a lot of people at Stewart-Haas Racing worked their butts off to try to help me. Everyone wanted to keep me. We worked with the sponsors with business to business opportunities. In the last few months I was working harder outside of the race track than inside of the race track and that is why we were able to make it happen. A month and a half ago I was worried because we were not close to our number. But a few weeks ago we got almost to the number and so I thought we were going to be good but part of the money just didn’t arrive on time and it wasn’t enough."
IS XFINITY AN OPTION OR DO YOU HAVE TO BE IN CUP? "I don’t know. It has only been 36 hours. I have one hour until I jump in the car and I haven’t even thought about the race car yet. There is a lot going on. I don’t know. For now I have to enjoy the last race of the season and see what happens."
ARE YOU TALKING TO RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING? "Richard is a great guy. He is a very honest and straightforward person. I haven’t talked to him in weeks but in years past we have had several conversations but not lately. Right now I really haven’t done a lot. I just wanted to get back on my feet and go racing and try to kick their butt."
IS IT MORE IMPORTANT THAT YOU ARE IN SOMETHING COMPETITIVE RATHER THAN JUST HAVE A RIDE? THAT YOU CAN GO SOMEPLACE TO WIN RACES AND NOT JUST RIDE? "When I made a decision to move here to the U.S. it was very important for me to achieve my goal. My goal was to win races and championships. I have achieved that, not in the Cup Series, but I have achieved that in the Xfinity Series. I have to keep working hard and I guess I will eventually have to make that decision but for now I don’t know. I don’t know what I am going to do but for me it is a priority to be with a competitive team to be able to do what I know how to do."
DO YOU FEEL THIS DECISION WAS MADE A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO, OR A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO? "That is a very good question. I don’t know. All I can tell you is that we thought we were going to be fine and all of a sudden we were not. Who knows. Probably a decision was already made and I didn’t know."
— Ford Performance —