It may be a risk, but it is a calculated risk.
NASCAR veteran Daniel Suarez will drive for a new Cup Series team in 2021, marking his fourth organization in the same number of years. Suarez was paired with Joe Gibbs Racing from 2017-18 before moving to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2019. This season, he’s Gaunt Brother Racing’s sole wheelman with five races remaining. And, on Wednesday, Trackhouse Racing Team revealed it’ll start a whole new crew next year with Suarez as its pilot.
“Maybe for people that already know me and maybe for people that see all this just from the very, very back, maybe they’re thinking, ‘What the heck is Daniel doing starting again with a brand new team?'” Suarez said on a Zoom teleconference. “But it’s a very good opportunity. I have done a lot in the last few years. I know what it takes to be successful, not just on the race track but as well as outside the race track. And one of the advantages Justin (Marks) has is that he’s still a race-car driver and now he’s a team owner, so he understands all sides of the coin extremely well.”
Marks is the founder and owner of Trackhouse Entertainment Group and therefore the brain behind its Trackhouse Racing Team. He picked Suarez to steer his No. 99 Chevrolet, starting with the Daytona 500 in February. Trackhouse leased a charter from Spire Motorsports to immediately get tires on the track in 2021 with full intentions of buying its own ASAP.
In addition to that deal, Trackhouse worked out an embedded operational alliance with Richard Childress Racing, meaning Trackhouse will work out of RCR’s property in Welcome, North Carolina, as an independent organization.
“As you know, it’s now a two-car operation,” Marks said. “But that’s been built out to be bigger than that. So they’ve got all these resources up there that are being underutilized. We’re coming in and basically just sharing some costs on that. Being plugged in to all their technology and their intellectual properties and their processes.
“It’s our team. It’s our people. It’s our effort.”
There are already sponsors on board, too. Marks doesn’t want to reveal anything yet since conversations are still ongoing. But he indicated there will be at least five “significant partners” in 2021.
The point is: Marks doesn’t seem worried about Trackhouse’s financial footing.
“I have a significant competition budget for 2021 that puts us in contention to be a playoff team,” Marks said. “That is a fact. If we get 80% of the way there with our sponsorship, the other 20% is there and it’s going to be utilized to put us in the most competitive position possible.”
RELATED: Daniel Suarez’s career timeline
Suarez isn’t in the current NASCAR Playoffs, which has its Round of 12 elimination race Sunday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC/NBC Sports App, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR radio). He actually sits 31st in the points standings. The No. 96 Toyota has led 20 laps this season but lacks any top-five or top-10 finishes.
For his career, though, Suarez has eight top-five and 32 top-10 showings. He has won the pole twice — once in 2018 and another in 2019. He placed a personal-best 17th in last year’s final rankings.
“You look to my career in the last few years, I haven’t had consistency, and I feel like consistency in racing is something super important,” Suarez said. “If you can’t have consistency, you cannot be successful. It was very important for me to know I’m going to have everything I need to be competitive and successful — not just next year but as well for what is after that.”