Edwards, Suarez Anxious To Begin At JGR
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – Carl Edwards was so excited, he barely slept on Monday night. Daniel Suarez called it a dream come true.
Both drivers were thrilled to be announced as the newest members of Joe Gibbs Racing on Tuesday at the team’s race shop. Edwards will drive the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota in Sprint Cup competition next year, while Suarez will pilot the No. 18 ARRIS Toyota in the Nationwide Series. He’ll also make select starts for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series.
Edwards has spent his entire Sprint Cup career driving Fords for Roush Fenway Racing. A move to a new team, a new manufacturer and new teammates – save for former RFR teammate Matt Kenseth, now at JGR – gives Edwards hope for the future.
He’s the fourth-winningest active Sprint Cup driver without a championship. Edwards’ 22 wins have all come with Roush Fenway, and he’ll be in the Chase for the Sprint Cup as a lame-duck driver with an eye on the future. The move to Gibbs’ team was a case of perfect timing for the Columbia, Mo. native who just turned 35 last Friday.
He wants a championship. JGR, Edwards said, gives him a great chance to do it – even though the team hasn’t won a title since Tony Stewart took the then-Chevy powered team to the crown in 2005. But sharing information with Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch can’t hurt his chances.
“At the end of the day, this is just really cool,” Edwards said. “I’m excited. It’s something new and different, and I think in life you’ve got to have those things. If you look across our sport and you see people who (switched teams), sometimes two guys will switch teams and both will do better.
“I believe I do have a short time to perform. Your career is relatively short, and this is something that I’m excited to do. Hopefully it’ll yield positive results. Who could ignore what Matt Kenseth did last year?”
Kenseth left RFR after 2012 and won a series-high seven races last season. He’s winless in 2014, but in solid shape in the Chase as the highest-ranked winless driver.
Kenseth said Edwards’ addition means the team will have a fresh set of eyes inside the cockpit and a wealth of new ideas outside the car.
Part of what drew Kenseth to JGR, he added, was how much input drivers can have in the organization. Edwards’ addition makes the team more formidable.
Bringing in Suarez, a 22-year-old Mexican driver who shined in NASCAR’s Mexico Series, was no sideshow to the Edwards acquisition. Kenseth said the young racer has a ton of potential. He came away from his first meeting with Suarez a month ago thinking about how well Suarez carries himself.
“My first impressions are, he’s a really hard worker who’s appreciative of where he’s at, who’s working hard to get better,” Kenseth said. “All the guys who raced against him in the Nationwide car had a lot of good stuff to say about him. I’m excited for him to get the opportunity. I look forward to getting to know him better.”
Suarez’ goal, like Edwards’, is to win a Sprint Cup title. While he’s not in a position to do so just yet, making the step up to full-time Nationwide competitor puts Suarez closer than ever to realizing his dream.
All he has to do now is impress his new car owner on a big stage.
“This is amazing,” Suarez said. “I can’t wait to learn from all these guys. I’m super excited and looking forward to starting racing.”
It marked a new day in Edwards’ and Suarez’ careers, one that Edwards said he approaches with two feelings: excitement about getting started and eagerness to prove his worth among his teammates.
“We’re competitors for the rest of this season,” Edwards said, “but next year it’ll be exciting to race for a championship. It’s going to be a blast.”