MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Reunited, but for how long?
Daniel Suarez doesn’t know.
Suarez is back with crew chief Scott Graves after Joe Gibbs Racing announced Wednesday that crew chief Dave Rogers would take an indefinite leave from the No. 19 team for personal reasons. No other information was provided for Rogers’ actions.
“It was a surprise for me as well,’’ Suarez said Friday at Martinsville Speedway. “I respect a lot Dave’s decision to do this and to try to take care of his personal stuff. You know, with a Cup schedule, as busy as it is, sometimes it’s difficult to do both things at the same time.
“I can tell you that he wishes he was here. I wish him the best with whatever decision he is making. I just hope that he comes back soon to do whatever that he loves to do – that is being in the races and being at the race track every weekend just like myself.”
Rogers’ absence comes after Suarez had finished seventh in back-to-week weeks.
With Rogers out, the organization turned to Graves, the crew chief for JGR’s No. 18 Xfinity team. His replacement with the Xfinity team will be named next week, the team stated.
Suarez and Graves won last year’s Xfinity title and Suarez said he had a role in having Graves fill in.
“I know Scott, I know what he can do,’’ Suarez said. “It was important to put somebody there that I knew already. I don’t know what is going to be the plan for the future. Maybe Scott is going to stay there for the full year. I don’t really know.’’
Graves, who last was a Cup crew chief in 2013 with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at Roush Fenway Racing, has had a lot of catching up to do. His task didn’t get easier when Suarez backed into the wall in practice and had to go to a backup car.
“We had some kind of issue with the brakes,’’ Suarez said. “Actually in the first run everything went okay, I didn’t wreck or anything. I called that something was weird with the brakes. Then after that went to (qualifying trim) and we wrecked in the first lap pretty much.