HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – Daniel Suarez participated in Tuesday’s wide-ranging press conference at Joe Gibbs Racing headquarters as if he was in a dreamland of sorts.
Surrounded by some of the best drivers in NASCAR and sitting alongside some of the most influential people in international motorsports, Suarez could be forgiven for being a bit shell-shocked.
A 22-year-old native of Monterrey, Suarez was named Tuesday as one of JGR’s full-time NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers for 2015. He also will drive part time for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“I feel lucky to be in this position right now,” Suarez said. “It’s the biggest step of my career. I can’t wait to start racing.”
Suarez started racing go-karts in Mexico at the age of 11 and showed promise early. He caught the eye of officials involved in the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series and moved into that series in 2011. He finished ninth in points that season in the Mexico Series and began racing part-time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, earning a spot in NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. He finished third in K&N points in 2013, becoming the highest-finishing international driver in series history while also scoring his first series win.
He made his Nationwide debut in April in a JGR car, finishing 19th at Richmond International Raceway, and continued success in K&N racing and the Mexico Series put him in position to go full time with JGR next year.
“We have been waiting for this opportunity for around three years,” Suarez said. “Finally, we made it — and with one of the best teams in the sport. I believe with all the support from Joe Gibbs Racing, we can have fast development with myself and learn to be fast and competitive quickly.”
As his career progressed in Mexico, Suarez had an opportunity to drive in formula racing in Europe.
“I had heard lots of comments from many people that NASCAR was working hard in the Hispanic market and that maybe that would be something good for me,” Suarez said. “So we made the decision to go here in the States.”
So he will begin next season carrying the banner of one of stock car racing’s leading teams and working with the guidance of a veteran driver corps that includes Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and now Carl Edwards.
“Going to a lot of tracks that are new to me, all the very good advice I can get will help,” Suarez said. “To have this kind of teammates is amazing. Also driving for Kyle Busch, I’ll get help there.”
Suarez has the support of Escuderia Telmex, the Mexico City group that has worked with NASCAR for many years in driver development programs. He will drive with sponsorship from ARRIS, the broadband and video technology company that also will be Edwards’ primary sponsor in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.