What happened: The Daniel Suarez and Stewart-Haas Racing marriage was finally made official Monday after a lengthy period of negotiation and speculation. Suarez lost his ride at Joe Gibbs Racing when Martin Truex Jr. moved to the 19 car following Furniture Row Racing’s shutdown. Meanwhile, SHR had an open seat in its No. 41 car after Kurt Busch and sponsor Monster left for Chip Ganassi Racing. It apparently took months to finalize the sponsorship details with Arris, but Suarez and SHR are now moving forward. Haas Automation — the machine tools company of SHR co-owner Gene Haas — was listed as the sponsor ahead of Arris, and the photo distributed in the team’s news release has Suarez in a black Haas firesuit.
What it means: A lot went on behind the scenes on the business side, from Arris leaving JGR to Suarez bringing enough sponsorship with him to get the ride. Gene Haas, who has most of the input on the No. 41 car, told NBC Sports in September about the possibility of signing Suarez: “We’ve talked to him. He brings a different group of sponsors. Like anything else, it comes down to the bottom line. How much sponsorship are we talking? How much money does SHR get? How much money does the driver get? Those are the kind of typical things that can take awhile to iron out because everybody wants everything.” Clearly, he wasn’t kidding about the “awhile” part, as it’s now less than six weeks until the Daytona 500. But that’s how business is done in NASCAR these days, as sponsorship is much more complex than companies just slapping their names on the hood.
News value (scale of 1-10): Four. Being a ride with one of the top teams in NASCAR saves it from being lower. But everyone figured this was coming for soooo long that it’s not surprising — therefore the actual “news” part is lower than average.
Three questions: Can Suarez really pull a Joey Logano and break through for wins after leaving JGR? Will Suarez finish higher or lower than Busch’s No. 1 car at Ganassi this season? Haas has said it takes $20 million to run a good Cup team without the driver salary included — so how much money were Suarez’s backers ultimately able to bring in order to secure the ride over other potential candidates?