RICHMOND, Virginia – Daniel Suarez has yet to sign a contract for next season but has no worries of returning to Trackhouse Racing, which has him relieved considering Kyle Busch’s precarious situation.
“I was thinking about that not too long ago, and I’ve been in that position a few times,” Suarez said Saturday before practice and qualifying at Richmond Raceway. “I believe Kyle has a very big resume on his back that supports him a lot, but even with that, he’s struggling. He has lost his main sponsor of many years, and now that the team, in my opinion, the team hasn’t done a good job selling him. They have known that M&Ms is leaving for a long time, and they haven’t been able to find anything. I find that surprising.
“For whatever reason, they are in that situation, and Ty (Gibbs), I thought, has been doing a decent job in the last few races (in place of injured Kurt Busch in the No. 45 Toyota). I don’t think he’s been doing great, but I think he’s been doing OK, and OK probably is good enough to be able to give him a shot (to replace Busch in the No. 18 Toyota). Who knows what is going to happen, but it’s definitely surprising the situation that (Kyle Busch) is in right now.”
Busch, who is in his 15th consecutive season at Joe Gibbs Racing, has no deal beyond the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. The two-time Cup Series champion has been in negotiations with Gibbs for months and recently said he was willing to take less money to stay with the team.
Suarez was asked about Busch’s status after the Mexican driver said he was “very close” to having a new deal at Trackhouse.
“I’m going to be honest, I haven’t even paid a lot of attention to (his own contract talks),” Suarez said. “I’m so focused right now on the playoffs and making my team stronger, but I know that my manager and people from Trackhouse are very, very close. We have never had doubts about where we’re at on those kind of things. I’m just working on a couple of details.
“But yeah, we’re going to be fine. It’s not done yet, but it’s close. It’s just a matter of time.”
With 13 races remaining this year, Suarez said he expects to re-sign before the season ends in November.
“I’m just not the one having all those conversations, but it’s going to happen soon,” he said. “It’s just a couple of little things that they’re working on, and that’s it, but overall we’re in very good shape.”
A new contract with Trackhouse would mark the first time Suarez has signed an extension in Cup.
Because of the retirement of Carl Edwards, he was promoted (ahead of schedule) to NASCAR’s premier series by Gibbs in 2017 to drive the No. 19 Toyota after winning the 2016 Xfinity Series championship.
Fired by Gibbs after two seasons in Cup (and replaced by Martin Truex Jr.), Suarez went to Stewart-Haas Racing for one year before surprisingly being replaced by Cole Custer after the 2019 season.
After a career-worst season with Gaunt Brothers Racing in 2020, Suarez went to Trackhouse’s startup No. 99 team last year and was 25th in the points standings. The team bought the assets of Chip Ganassi Racing and expanded to a second car with Suarez’s new teammate Ross Chastain.
Suarez earned the first victory of his Cup career June 12 at Sonoma Raceway, making the playoffs for the first time. He has a career-high five top fives through 23 races this season.
Trackhouse Racing president Ty Norris told NBC Sports a few days after the Sonoma win that there was “a 100% chance that Daniel Suarez is re-signed with us.”