Suarez, Truex ease into new roles, join Logano for Auto Club tire test

Daniel Suarez brings the No. 41 Ford back to the garage after a test run at Auto Club Speedway.
Auto Club Speedway

Three teams put in their first on-track activity of the new year Wednesday, with two new faces in prominent new places and the defending champ getting some early reps.

Those first glimpses came Wednesday at Auto Club Speedway, site of a two-day Goodyear tire test. Martin Truex Jr. marked his first on-track action in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota, and his predecessor — Daniel Suarez — took his first turn at the wheel of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Ford. The two were joined at the 2-mile track by 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano in the Team Penske No. 22 Ford.

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Wednesday’s early session represented the first of two days testing rubber ahead of the Auto Club 400 on March 17 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM). The fifth event of the 2019 season is part of a NASCAR doubleheader weekend with the Xfinity Series.

Truex moves in house with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2019 after five years with Furniture Row Racing, which ceased operations at the end of last season. His No. 19 test car carried sponsorship on its hood from Bass Pro Shops, which announced last week that it would continue its backing of Truex in a multi-year deal.

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Suarez’s quick transition to the No. 41 driver’s seat comes after being announced as SHR’s newest addition on Monday, his 27th birthday. And Logano, who will begin his title defense at the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, was back in the saddle less than two months after claiming his first premier-series crown. Both took the 2019 Mustang — Ford’s new model for Monster Energy Series competition — for a test drive.

All three drivers got a taste of the 2019 rules package for the Monster Energy Series. Air ducts, a larger rear spoiler and other aerodynamic changes were in effect, as was a tapered spacer intended to reduce horsepower to a target number of 550.

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The next test session for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is an organizational test, scheduled Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.