In this particular case, once was precisely just enough.
Mooresville-based Gaunt Brothers Racing, nearing the completion of its first fulltime season of fielding a single-car entry with the premier NASCAR Cup Series circuit, officially announced earlier this week that its search has begun anew for a new driver.
GBR, based out of Mooresville and owned by namesake Marty Gaunt, and current driver Daniel Suárez have mutually agreed to part ways upon the conclusion of the current 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Suárez joined GBR in late January and will continue to drive the No. 96 Toyota Camry through the season finale Nov. 8 at Phoenix Raceway.
“The entire team is very appreciative of the effort Daniel has put forth. He has helped build the foundation we need for next season as well as 2022 when the NextGen car arrives,” said Gaunt, president and CEO of GBR. “We’re both committed to earning as many points as possible in these last eight races together and finishing the season strong.”
GBR was founded in 2010 and stepped up to the elite NASCAR Cup Series in 2017 on a limited basis when it entered the Daytona 500.
After running a part-time schedule for three years, where GBR made a total of 37 starts with a handful of drivers, GBR committed to a full schedule in 2020 with Suárez.
“I’m extremely thankful to my entire Toyota family for everything they have done for me, especially this year. I will always be grateful to them for having my back,” said Suárez, currently in his fourth season in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“Marty and everyone at Gaunt Brothers Racing invest a lot of time and effort into this race team,” added the 28-year-old Suárez, who hails from Monterrey, Mexico. “I’m proud to have been a part of it. I have given 100 percent of myself to this team since day one, and I will continue to give 100 percent until the last lap at Phoenix. My goal has always been to win races and championships, and that will never change.”
Earlier this year, GBR notched a 24-race streak of running at the finish, a mark surpassed by just one other driver/team combination this season.
Driver Suárez has experienced a tough learning curve at the top-notch division after winning the second-tier NASCAR Xfinity Series title in 2016. Prior to arriving in the GBR garage, he has garnered all or parts of three seasons at the Cup Series level.
GBR has had only one DNF (Did Not Finish) this year, it coming in the Aug. 29 Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona (Florida) International Speedway, where Suárez actually led the field for 19 laps before getting caught up in a multicar accident four laps short of the finish.
“It’s a big jump to go from a part-time schedule to a full-time schedule, especially this season as we all dealt with the challenges of a global pandemic, but we’ve made it work,” Gaunt said. “Our strategic partnership with Toyota has been a critical and valuable asset, and that’s evident by the reliability we’ve been able to achieve this year.
“We’re laying important groundwork for improved goals next year that, ultimately, sets us up for success with the NextGen car in 2022,” continued Gaunt. “We’re taking a methodical, long-term approach to our future and the next driver of our No. 96 Toyota will be an integral part of that development.”
GBR fields the No. 96 Toyota Camry in the NASCAR Cup Series. Namesake Gaunt founded GBR in 2010, with his eponymous team starting out in the Canada-based NASCAR Pinty’s Series and the U.S.-based NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Its first driver, Jason Bowles, scored GBR’s maiden victory in the 2011 Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway in California, with the precursor to that win being the pole position in track-record time at the 2011 Streets of Toronto 100.
After seven years competing in NASCAR’s development divisions, Gaunt stepped up to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2017, entering the Daytona 500 with driver D.J. Kennington.
After running a part-time NASCAR Cup Series schedule in 2018 and 2019, where GBR made a total of 37 starts with a handful of drivers, GBR committed to a full schedule in 2020.