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Denny Hamlin and Others Weigh In: Suarez is NOT Safe

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

Daniel Suarez’s win at Atlanta last weekend came at an opportune time with his contract expiring at the end of 2024. However, despite a vote of confidence from team owner Justin Marks, not everyone in the garage is convinced that Suarez is safe. What did Denny Hamlin and the posse at “Door, Bumper, Clear” have to say about Daniel Suarez’s future?

Read Also:

  • Trackhouse Racing is in a unique scenario with 4 current NASCAR National Touring Series drivers under contract and only 2 Cup Series cars. With SVG and Zane Smith joining the fray and the success of Ross Chastain, some speculated that Suarez may be the odd driver out at Trackhouse.
  • Team owner Justin Marks clapped back at those rumors saying, “I don’t envision a situation where Daniel [Suarez] is not a driver at Trackhouse.” Marks also talked about Trackhouse “Growing”, and that brought in some interesting speculation about the future of the race team as a whole. Could they expand beyond two cars and slot in the other drivers there?
  • Fans are also speculating about the future of Suarez. Trackhouse is very crowded, and many felt that Suarez was on the hot seat to prove he belonged.

What Denny Hamlin Had to Say

While Hamlin is not speaking with inside knowledge here, he is in the garage every week. He also understands this scenario from both the driver’s perspective and the team owner’s perspective, so, his insight does carry some weight.

Denny Hamlin specifically addressed the comments made by Marks after the race. Hamlin does not feel that Marks’ comments equated exactly to Suarez coming back in 2025, even if Suarez did help himself with the win.

That’s too vague. I know hear that. and I listen to the tear down and when you say statements like, ‘He’ll always be a part of Trackhouse,’. I’m sorry, it’s all he can say more than likely right, but he didn’t say driving a cup car at Trackhouse.

Denny Hamlin

Hamlin duly notes that Marks did not explicitly say that Suarez would be back in the #99 car, to which Hamlin is correct. There is still a small opening for Suarez to be let go.

However, Hamlin also addressed Marks’ other comments about the potential expansion of Trackhouse. Hamlin mentioned how difficult it is to expand a race team, and what this deal would ultimately come down to should expansion not work out.

This thing comes down to dollars and cents sometimes. When you got a couple drivers that are very, very close, or what you deem very close. you’re going to make whatever makes most financial sense. Sometimes, in some instances, you do whatever makes financial sense to survive and the talent doesn’t mean as much…If you plan on expanding your team then it’s it’s a non-factor right. [Expanding is going to be difficult as it should be.

Denny Hamlin

It all seems to come down to whether or not Trackhouse expands or not. If they do not expand, then is Daniel Suarez really that safe? Time will ultimately tell.

What Door, Bumper, Clear Had to Say

NASCAR spotters Brett Griffin and Freddie Kraft both gave their thoughts on the Daniel Suarez scenario on “Door, Bumper, Clear”. Like Denny Hamlin, both individuals are at the race track with years of knowledge and insight into the sport. While they are not speaking with insider knowledge, they do know how the sport works.

While not convinced that the Atlanta win was enough, Griffin gave a specific benchmark for Suarez to solidify his seat in the 99 car at Trackhouse. He also brought up the issue of funding.

Daniel’s going to have to show up for me to say he solidified in this particular car for a long time and win more races. Here’s the thing we don’t know how much money does Daniel still have behind him…It still takes money to race too….Yes I read Justin Marks/ comments when he said Daniel Suarez is going to be here, those are sometimes some of the worst words you can ever hear.

Brett Griffin

It seems that Griffin is in “prove it” mode with Suarez. While Atlanta was a big win for the driver of the #99 car, the season is still only 2 races old, and Suarez has to prove that he can be a consistent contender week in and week out to stay solidified in this seat. Griffin also is not convinced by Marks’ comments.

Kraft held a similar opinion. He wants to see more from Suarez than just the win at Atlanta, and it also could depend on how other drivers perform.

I don’t want to take anything away cuz I thought he did a good job. I don’t think he had the fastest car. I think he was the one of the most aggressive guys at the end, and that’s what got him the win. It’s still circumstantial. He’s one Bubba Wallace push away from you winning that race, so third place ain’t saving his job I think I think a lot of it depends on the success of SVG the success of Zane Smith this year

Freddie Kraft

Kraft begins his comments by talking about the Atlanta win specifically, calling it “Circumstantial”. In fairness, Suarez did not take the lead until lap 248, so, he was far from the dominant car of the race. Still, he put himself in the right place at the right time.

As far as the other drivers go, Zane Smith and SVG are obviously Trackhouse’s investments into the future. If Trackhouse does not expand, then someone will be the odd driver out, and Suarez could find himself there if the performance is not good enough.

Who Has Lost Their Seat After Winning a Race?

As we look forward, it’s also important to note that winning a race has not solidified the seats of drivers throughout recent history. There are plenty of examples of drivers who lost their seats despite winning a race.

Kyle Busch (2007)

Kyle Busch won the Food City 500 at Bristol in 2007, the first race in NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow. However, numerous outbursts throughout his tenure, including a run-in with teammate Kurt Busch at the All-Star Race and saying the Car of Tomorrow “Sucks” after winning at Bristol, played a role in his exit. Busch would rebound to race at Joe Gibbs Racing, where he would stay for 15 years afterward, winning 2 Championships.

Kurt Busch (2011)

Kurt Busch was in his 6th season with Team Penske in 2011, and he won races at Sonoma and Dover. However, he had two major run-ins with the media, the more prominent being screaming at ESPN pit reporter Dr. Jerry Punch at Homestead-Miami Speedway after a transmission failure. Busch was let go by the team shortly thereafter with some reports saying Penske let him go, but, the official release said both sides agreed to part ways. Regardless, Busch would spend 2012 floundering with Phoenix Racing before rejuvenating his career with Furniture Row Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing later in the decade.

Joey Logano (2012)

Joey Logano won at Pocono in June of 2012, but, he ended up finishing 17th in points, missing the Chase. Joe Gibbs Racing moved on from Logano and signed Matt Kenseth instead. Logano ended up moving on to Team Penske where he revitalized his career and won 2 Championships in a ride he still holds today.

Switching teams is by no means a death sentence. Each of these drivers found success after losing their seat, so, if Suarez finds himself in a similar situation, it’s no reason to believe his career is over by any means.

We do not know what the future holds for Daniel Suarez. It seems the jury is still out on his safety in the #99 car beyond this year.

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts