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Volume 24 No. 135
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Daniel Suarez Jumping In Edwards' Car Could Fast-Forward NASCAR's Diversity Push

NASCAR's "greatest hope for diversity has suddenly arrived," as Daniel Suarez will be the "first Mexican-born driver to compete full-time" in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series when he replaces Carl Edwards in Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 19 Toyota, according to Jeff Gluck of USA TODAY. Edwards' sudden decision to leave the sport leaves Suarez a "great chance for success, considering he has a coveted spot at JGR and will be driving a car capable of winning races." He has "never made a start" in the Cup Series, and there were not "any announced plans to do so this year." The thought was JGR was "grooming him to get there eventually, especially with sponsor Arris -- which he shared with Edwards -- behind him" (USA TODAY, 1/11).'s Chase Wilhelm wrote the move is "not only good for Suarez, but it will also have an extremely positive effect on NASCAR as a whole, for a number of reasons." The move will "bolster NASCAR’s efforts to tap into the Latin American market." Suarez also "brings a ton of young talent and enthusiasm, which is a perfect fit for Monster Energy’s first season as the Cup Series title sponsor." It was "only a matter of time" before Suarez moved up "to NASCAR’s top level, but not even he could have predicted it would have happened this rapidly" (, 1/10). In Daytona Beach, Ken Willis writes Suarez replacing Edwards "might not be a total loss for NASCAR, which needs all the star power it can get." Suarez could "open new doors, but there are plenty of variables there." Willis: "The variable no one had considered ... was an up-to-speed star driver hitting the exit ramp on short notice" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 1/11). Richmond Int'l Raceway's feed tweeted, "Focused, talented, humble. @Daniel_SuarezG is a natural fit to fill the big shoes left by #CarlEdwards." Fox Sports' Alan Cavanna: "Suarez talking about his return to Mexico after the title. Says 'big names' were asking for his picture. Different from a few years ago." Motor Racing Network's Kyle Rickey: "Great to see @Daniel_SuarezG move into the Cup Series. He has been awesome 2 work with since his arrival into the states w @NASCARDiversity."

: USA TODAY's Gluck reported Edwards is "not leaving" NASCAR for a TV job at Fox Sports or NBC Sports, which had been the "subject of some speculation following" his retirement. Fox Sports President of Production John Entz in a statement said, "Fox Sports has really enjoyed having Carl in the booth and on our air in various capacities over the years, but speculation that he may be climbing out of the car to join the Fox NASCAR broadcast team is unfounded." An NBC spokesperson said that Edwards was "not joining that network, either" (, 1/10). Edwards in his press conference remarks today said that he is "open to broadcasting career in the future" (, 1/11).

LEAVING TOWN:'s Jim Utter noted an Athenian Motorsports official "confirmed" driver John Wes Townley will "no longer compete in NASCAR." Team officials "confirmed the Athenian Motorsports organization will cease its operations, which this past season included fielding entries in ARCA, Trucks and the Xfinity Series" (, 1/10).