One name is conspicuous in absence as the 2017 NASCAR season roster takes shape. As the racing world continues to prepare for a life without Carl Edwards, who retired suddenly on 9 January, attention turns to a young Mexican rookie by the name of Daniel Suarez, who now finds himself with a huge gap to fill.
A bright future for Daniel Suarez?
The number 19 car began to command much greater respect after being occupied by Edwards in 2015. It also exceeded expectations last season, with Edwards reaching the finale at Homestead against the odds.
As demonstrated by his first Xfinity win, Suarez’ overall driving style is based on fuel efficiency rather than brute speed. This will be an asset to his new team, Joe Gibbs Racing. Superior on-track pace established JGR as the dominant force in 2015. It also enabled the team to field two finalists in 2016.
Furthermore, JGR already boasts excellent talents, including 2015 champion Kyle Busch, and one of the best technical setups ahead of the 2017 NASCAR season. Ultimately, this will make Suarez’ transition to a ‘heavyweight’ team smooth and very promising.
Despite becoming the first-ever Mexican to win the Xfinity series last year, Suarez now has an additional challenge. Specifically, he must conquer an American dominance of NASCAR cup racing that shows no sign of relenting. To date, every NASCAR champion in history has claimed honours in the name of Old Glory. However, the raw power of Joe Gibbs Racing threatens American supremacy in NASCAR.
Even if Suarez does not attain the heights of his predecessor in the number 19 car, the future of non-Americans is bright. At the very least, Suarez’ status as the first Mexican Xfinity champion vindicates NASCAR’s postmodern diversity programme afresh.