Daniel Suarez has been getting many tips behind the wheel from the man he replaced in the NASCAR Cup Series.
The rookie from Mexico recently got some tips from Carl Edwards for how to handle being in front of the camera.
Suarez, 25, is appearing in a commercial with Carl Edwards that will be shown during Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway, the first of four in which the No. 19 Toyota will be sponsored by Subway.
“We have a good time in it,” Suarez told NBC Sports in a phone interview Wednesday. “I’m sure (Edwards) will like it because he’s very, very cool.
“He’s not racing right now anymore, but he still is a part of this group, so I think it was something very important, because he’s been super helpful in the last couple of years in my career. I was just really excited to see how much work it takes to do a national commercial of 10 to 15 seconds. It takes a lot of work, and it turned out super great.”
Edwards, of course, has been one of the best corporate pitchmen in NASCAR since entering the premier series in 2004. (It’s unclear whether Edwards maintains a personal services deal with Subway; NBC Sports was unable to confirm it with the company.)
He stunned the racing world when he announced in January that he was stepping away and turning over his full-time ride at Joe Gibbs Racing to Suarez.
But Edwards, 37, hasn’t disappeared, providing pointers to Suarez during the race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway and in a February test session at Phoenix Raceway. Suarez said he and Edwards talk weekly.
“Oh yeah, we keep in touch,” he said. “Actually, even he’s not racing full time, he’s still helping me in a lot of different areas. Not just in the race car, but out of the race car as well.
“We have to remember that there is a team that I’m racing with right now that he’s known since last year. He knows these guys very, very well, and everything he’s done for me. So yeah, I keep in communication with him, and he’s been helpful trying to make all the communication and chemistry a good deal better.”
Suarez said he hadn’t talked with Edwards about what the future might hold. At Atlanta, Edwards seemed to keep all his options on the table for returning to race stock cars.
“He’s accomplished so many good things in the sport,” Suarez said of Edwards. “He’s got some other things he wants to accomplish as well. And that’s something we don’t talk about a lot. But you never know. He loves racing. Who knows? Maybe he comes back one day to do a few races.”
If he does, Edwards could be in the position of racing his replacement, who has struggled throughout his first four races in Cup. Suarez notched a seventh place at Phoenix after placing 20th or worse in his first three events.
“These cars are just more difficult to drive, and the competition is just tougher,” he said. “When you are off in Xfinity, you can run 10-14th. When you are a little off in the Cup stuff, you are 35th, 36th. It’s pretty different. To learn how to communicate with my crew chief and build that chemistry with my new engineers, Dave Rogers … We’re still learning so many different things, for sure. We’re in the right path moving forward.”