THE MODERATOR: Our second announcement today is obviously that Daniel Suarez will be taking over the No. 19 Camry this season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Joining us today Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing; Daniel Suarez; we have Ron Coppock, who is executive vice president, global marketing and customer operations of ARRIS; and we have Ed Laukes, vice president, integrated marketing operations, Toyota Motor Sales, USA.
So we’re going to start with Coach. A lot of news today. Carl obviously just addressed everybody, so why don’t you share your thoughts on Carl and then on Daniel.
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, thank you. First of all, thanks to everybody for coming out. I know how important all of this is to the NASCAR family, to the media, our fans, and so I thought I might share a little bit, I might be able to help on some of the questions and everything that were asked about Carl. So let me start first of all with that.
This was such a surprise, I was all set for the holidays, to have a little R & R, and to hang around the house and everything, and I was in a meeting, and they said, hey, Carl stopped by. And I figured it was going to be, hey, have a great Christmas and everything. And when he sat down in front of me and shared what he was thinking, I was totally surprised.
The first thing I did, I said, look, this is a huge decision here. I said, let’s spend some time thinking about this. And so we took four days, let Carl really go back, spend time with the family, and then we got hooked up again on the phone, and I could tell that he was really committed, okay, to stepping away from racing.
So I just wanted to say to everybody here, I was totally surprised. There was nothing about contracts, future talks. I just want to say to everybody here, it was totally a surprise, I think something Carl felt like it was very important for me, and he had chose this time to step away. So that ‑‑ it was a total surprise.
And so then we obviously start down that path, and for our whole team here, I just want everybody to know, most important thing about us, this team, is our employees here. We’re one big team, for J.D., Coy and the Gibbs family, we feel like we’ve got one of the neatest things going.
So we started, all of us together, our management team started working on this, and I was on airplanes pretty much nonstop, and obviously the first thing was who could drive the car.
Daniel was the obvious choice. As everybody knows here, had an unbelievable year in XFINITY. We have been around Daniel now for two and a half years. And I can honestly say this: His background and the people that work with him, you know, you’ve got Gustavo, Jimmy is here, Jimmy is a big part of obviously Daniel’s life, but his family, what you can tell about Daniel is Daniel, he’s all over it.
I’ll give you an example. We have a lot of things where we have sponsors come in here and do different two‑ and three‑day events, and we’d be down at the bowling alley with a sponsor that had nothing to do with Daniel, and I’d turn around and there he is, he’s bowling. Or he’s at the pit and driving the go‑karts and stuff like that.
In the time we had, two and a half years, we became convinced that he’s going to ‑‑ as everybody here in NASCAR has watched him talent‑wise, we felt like that obviously that was a great choice for us, and I think he’s had the right background.
Now, the other good thing about this for us, that 19 team with Dave Rogers leading it, Daniel will be put with a team that has one of the best pit crews in the sport. Obviously a veteran crew chief that we have extreme confidence in, and so he’ll be surrounded ‑‑ we just met this morning with the 19 group. He’ll be surrounded with that group. So great thing we’ve got going for ourselves is we ‑‑ I think we’re going to be putting him in the right place.
As far as a statement, announcement, the one thing I wanted to say about Carl, we consider Carl now part of our family. He and I have talked numerous times over the last couple of weeks, and I think he’s still kind of questioning what all he’s going to be doing, but what we have discussed with him is continuing to work with us and continuing to work inside of NASCAR, and we’ve got some things coming up. We’re hoping Daniel is going to be at his first test the 30th, and we’re hoping that with Carl’s schedule he can make that. He’s going to help Daniel and our support group, but then there’s going to be other things that we’ve kind of been thinking about with Carl. So hopefully that’s what we’ll see in the future going forward.
To Jimmy, Gustavo, Carlos, everybody in the background there, good job. Thank you. Thank goodness Daniel was there for us to step in for us.
To Toyota, huge part of everything we do. This was a big shock for Toyota, and we do everything together here. It’s honestly ‑‑ we probably have I don’t know how many phone calls during the week talking about different things with everybody in the Toyota family, from Bob Carter, Ed on down, David (Wilson). We’re constantly discussing things. We go through things. It’s more than us just working together. It’s a true partnership. We’ve been through tough times at different times, adversity, and certainly this one threw us a curve ball. I think we’ll all say that.
But you know, I think that’s part of life and what we do with racing and in big‑time sports, it can certainly happen, and that’s what did happen this time. So thanks to everybody there at Toyota.
I want to say this: Everybody knows how important ‑‑ when you have sponsors in this sport, it’s different than any other sport. In other sports, the sponsor is not on the car, in the game and a part of this, and as everybody knows here, you can play football, basketball and baseball without a sponsor. You’re not racing without a sponsor. They become partners. And you can imagine people sitting in a company and me showing up on the doorstep at the holidays saying, hey, we’ve got something that happened here. So I went through on airplanes, and we started with ARRIS, which is a huge partner for us. We’re thrilled to have them on board, and I know everybody at NASCAR is, so I go down for a meeting there and talked over a plan with them, and we were able to work through all of this, and Ron will kind of add some things there about going forward. So ARRIS was the first stop, and really when we embarked on this, we didn’t know if we were going to be able to get everything put together here. We might not have had that option.
So ARRIS, then I went to visit Jim Loree at Stanley Black & Decker, just an awesome company, huge. They’re on two of our cars, the DeWalt package on the 20, and an unbelievable meeting. Sat there with five people with Jim Loree running the whole company, and when he got through, he said to his team, let’s go around the table here and tell me what you think. And every single one of them on this team said, we understand what’s happening, and we’re excited about Daniel.
And so that was a great and awesome meeting. I had a phone conversation with Subway. I’ve got a meeting coming up later in the month here with them. Just great, signed off, great conversation with them.
And then Interstate, and our boy Norm (Miller), I just wanted to say to everybody here, huge surgery five days ago. Norm had his second open heart deal, and I went down to see him before the surgery. It was typical Norm. He’s rolling around the room in a wheelchair and talking about the nurses, and he goes, hey, I got this covered whichever way it goes. So typical Norm.
But Norm signed off, said, we’re on board. So I just want to say a big thanks to all of our partners there and our sponsors. I wanted to say a big thanks to them.
To the NASCAR team, everybody there from Brian (France) on down and everybody at NASCAR, I think when we had a chance to share this with them, it was the same thing. Nobody there had any idea. Everybody was totally taken aback. But we all ‑‑ we sat and had a conversation at Detroit at the big auto show and everything there. Their concern and the first thing they said to me, we hope Carl can stay involved with our sport. So we’re going to do that.
Thanks to NASCAR and all of your support and everything that you guys do for our sport and the fact that we’re in this, and the leadership that you give is just ‑‑ it makes us ‑‑ we feel so comfortable with that. So thank everybody at NASCAR, Mike, Brian and Lesa.
Our people here at JGR, I mentioned the people when we first started, hugely important for us. They’re already rallying. They are after it already, making preparations and everything for our first test coming up at the end of the month to surrounding Daniel with everything that we have here and every resource. Ever since we got together with Daniel, our goal was to every time he hit the racetrack have him in a car with a team that he could have a chance to win a race, every single time. He’s obviously done an unbelievable job for us, and we really appreciate that. Winning the championship this year was a huge deal for us.
Denny, Kyle and Matt, went and had a chance to talk to them, other Cup guys. They’re going to miss Carl because ‑‑ in our technical room right here, we have our meetings at 10:30 on Tuesdays, and honestly, you would think if you got Martin, Matt, Denny, Kyle and Carl together that there would be some sparks. Those guys, and I think Carl said it here, is true. They share with each other. They try and help each other. And in any case, I think the drivers, their concern obviously was like a lot of the questions that all of you had, but I think they’ve had a chance to talk to Carl, and they understand.
So in any case, we’re going to move forward here. I’ve spent enough time. I’m getting the ‑‑ Coy is giving me the ‑‑ normally his mother does that. (Laughter.)
THE MODERATOR: Daniel, very exciting news for you, obviously, today. Share your thoughts on being named to take over the No. 19 Camry.
DANIEL SUAREZ: This is amazing. I wasn’t expecting to be in this position right now. It’s been an amazing time. This is hard to believe that I’m in this position. We started all this dream 10 years ago with NASCAR, and right now to be in this position, to be in this opportunity is just something amazing for me and for everyone that has been helping me, of course.
I know that it won’t be easy. We have a lot to work. I have a lot to learn. But I’m sure that it couldn’t happen in a better situation with Dave Rogers and the entire 19 group. It’s just an amazing team. I feel like it’s just a perfect place to be for a rookie like me that is really hungry to learn and to go out there and to perform well.
Really, as well, I want to thank a lot of people that helped me to get to this point. My family, of course; Coach Gibbs and the entire Joe Gibbs Racing family, for trusting me years ago, a kid from México, that barely was speaking English. Obviously my sponsors, ARRIS, Stanley, Subway, Interstate Batteries, Coca‑Cola, and of course Toyota. I can’t wait to drive that car, and that’s sharp. That’s just unbelievable. I wish I could take it to the street right now.
And as well, everyone in México. Everyone in México, they’ve been supporting me, not just right now, but when we started all this journey more than 10 years ago, it’s been amazing, Jimmy Morales, Carlos Slim, Gustavo Arenas, the entire Sabates family, NASCAR for the amazing support through the Drive 4 Diversity program. It’s been an amazing journey, and I can’t wait for the future. Thank you very much, everyone.
THE MODERATOR: Ron, big changes to the ARRIS racing program, of course, with Carl stepping away and Daniel going in the car. Kind of share your thoughts. You’ve had close relationships with both drivers. Give us your thoughts today.
RON COPPOCK: Well, our first thought was what a surprise, and then we started working with Coach, and we started working the issue, and then it became very apparent there was an opportunity there, as there usually is, a silver lining and dark clouds sometimes.
I know Carl is not here, but I’d like to say a couple words about Carl. I’d like to say that he has been a tireless advocate for our brand. He has created fans worldwide that have become ARRIS fans. And most importantly, the person he is. He’s a sportsman. He’s a gentlemen. He’s a fierce competitor. And so we wish him well, and I am sure that he will be successful in whatever endeavor he chooses to pursue.
So we want to look at the future now. And our future is sitting right next to us, this young man who came from México three or four years ago, amazing performance over the last couple of years, three victories, but most importantly, a championship in two years. Amazing.
We have all the confidence in the world that Daniel is going to be successful. He’s got a great team behind him, the absolute best ownership in the business, and quite frankly, we would not be in racing if it wasn’t for Coach Gibbs. We believe in integrity. It’s our core value.
Danny also brings the global aspect to the business. We’re a $7 billion ‑‑ well, I shouldn’t say that. We range from $6 and a half to $7 billion depending on any given day. But we are a global company. We do business in 70 countries worldwide. One of our largest growing regions internationally is Latin America. That does not just include México but all of Latin America.
Danny has become a rock star. I was in Mexico City in December for a race, a NASCAR Mexican race, and I personally watched the TV crews harass him all day long.
We think there is great leverage in that position, and also diversity is a core value of our company, and Danny brings and continues that commitment to diversity.
So Danny, I would like to finish ‑‑ I’m going to say something to our friends that I know are listening throughout Latin America. Bear with me. You know, Spanish is my third language. I speak English, Alabaman and then Spanish. But I just want to say, this is an exciting time for our entire company. You know how our employees feel about you. Danny comes and visits us. He attends our sales conferences. He’s very engaged from a sponsorship standpoint, but just as important, he creates an environment of real success and pride within ARRIS.
I was at the Daytona press conference two years ago, and I remember asking people, how many people have ever heard of ARRIS, and I got three or four hands, and I think probably two of those didn’t ‑‑ they were being nice. I think today people know who ARRIS is. We’re the largest provider of in‑home set‑top boxes, CPE, modems, also routers, so the largest company in our space.
The interesting thing about it is Danny actually uses our technology. As a gamer, we provide the bandwidth that allows him to compete not only on the race course but also at home when you’re competing against people from all over the world.
DANIEL SUAREZ: Muchas gracias, mi amigo Ron. Appreciate it, Ron.
THE MODERATOR: Ed, it is a huge week, is an understatement I think for Toyota and Toyota racing. On Monday the 2018 Camry was unveiled. We have the race version of that that will be on the track in Daytona before the actual Camry hits the showroom. An enormous week, and now today with Carl’s announcement and Daniel going in the car, give us your thoughts from Toyota’s perspective on the week.
ED LAUKES: Yeah, thank you, Chris. Good morning, everyone. Pretty busy week for us, obviously. Three quick things because I know everybody wants to get to questions and talk to Joe and to Daniel. But first of all, I think a little over two years ago when Joe approached us about talking to Carl and coming over from Ford, we were so excited, and he really has become such a friend of our company, a friend of a lot of people within Toyota and a great ambassador for us. We know that whatever he decides to do in his future, he’s going to be great at it, and the emotional reaction that you saw from him I don’t think surprised anyone in this room that’s had any interaction with Carl.
He’s going to be great, and he’ll still be our friend, and he’s also got an airplane and he flies himself, so we can always pick up the phone and he can show up and come and help us with some stuff down the road. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Carl Edwards is my humble opinion. It’s all speculation, but in my humble opinion.
Secondly, Daniel. When Daniel came and first started driving in trucks and then XFINITY, he’s become a huge part of our family and part of the Toyota family right out of the chute. Daniel, you’re not only a great champion but a great ambassador for Toyota, and thank you very much for everything that you’ve done, and moving over into the Cup side, we know you’re going to do a great job, and you’re going to be a great champion, also, in the Cup side eventually.
DANIEL SUAREZ: Thank you.
ED LAUKES: I think when we get to Daytona, I’d love to see the No. 19 ARRIS, hand him that trophy so we can keep it in the Toyota family two years in a row, so that’s your first assignment when we get down to Daytona.
DANIEL SUAREZ: Thank you very much.
ED LAUKES: That was from Bob Carter, not from me. He told me that I had to relay that to you.
And then finally, Monday you saw a lot of press about the 2018 Camry production vehicle that was introduced at the Detroit Auto Show, and simultaneously when it was introduced, we introduced the 2018 Cup car, as well, and I don’t recall in my 27 years with Toyota, I don’t recall that any manufacturer has ever introduced a new car and simultaneously introduced their race car version at the exact same time. And I think that is just another demonstration of Toyota’s commitment to NASCAR over the last 10 years since we’ve been in the Cup Series. We continue to grow.
We started off very humbly with Michael Waltrip and with the Red Bull guys in 2007 and Bill Davis, and with the addition of Joe Gibbs and now Furniture Row, we really have grown and endeared ourselves to the NASCAR community, the fans, and we went from being an outsider to just being a participant and a champion in all series.
The manufacturer’s championship that we won in 2016 with the help, obviously, of everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing was so huge, and we got a chance in Detroit, if you didn’t see it, for Denny Hamlin and Joe and Kyle Busch to present the trophy to Akio Toyoda. It really was a very, very emotional day for him to see that happen.
Manufacturer’s championships in all three series, drivers’ championships in all three series. This is just another demonstration of our commitment, and best selling car in America for the last 15 years, and it will continue on. Thank you. Appreciate it.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Ed. With that, we will open it up to questions here.
- For Coach Joe, the plans now, I know Daniel was supposed to be in XFINITY Series car this year. Will he run both series full time concurrently?
JOE GIBBS: He will. In all likelihood, it won’t be full‑time, but what we’re going to do, and I should have mentioned that our XFINITY program ‑‑ we love XFINITY. We’ve got a huge investment over there in people and our sponsors over there. We’ve got some of the biggest and best, and those companies absolutely love our XFINITY program, and thanks to NASCAR and everybody they do working on that. Here’s the deal with us. We will continue to run three cars over there. This has caused us some changes on one of them, but we feel very confident that we’ll wind up with a full year.
With Daniel, what we’re going to do is talk it over with Dave and everybody else and Daniel, and we’re going to kind of adjust his schedule on what we think is best. You know, I think right now we’re around 10 races or something, but we could go either way with that, and we really just want to do what’s best for Daniel in preparing him for Cup.
We’ve got our other Cup drivers that are going to be chipping in on it, but it’s going to be pretty much Dave’s decision on how much we do.
- Daniel, you didn’t have much time to sort of soak in your XFINITY championship before this next move had come. What did you hope your career path would look like? How long did you think it would take you to get to Cup, and are you ready for Cup?
DANIEL SUAREZ: Well, first of all, when you are with the right team, you know that the opportunity will come, and it will come at the right time. I feel like in the last two years I have learned a lot in the XFINITY Series. I had an amazing team in 2016, a team that started to grow a lot the second half of the year. It was an amazing team. It was maybe one of the teams to beat, and ended up with winning the championship and winning the race. So I was very, very close to my team, and you know, when you are in an organization like Joe Gibbs Racing, you know the opportunity will come at one point, and I felt like at this point, everything that happened in 2016 in the XFINITY Series, I felt like that helped me a lot to be ready for this opportunity.
This opportunity came, and like Coach mentioned, I was there to take that opportunity, and here we are. I feel like it’s really a dream come true. Since I moved to NASCAR when I was 16 years old, this has been something that I’ve been dreaming about, and right now to be in this position is just something amazing.
- Where were you when you were first approached about this opportunity, who told you, was it a face‑to‑face deal, was it a phone call, and what was your initial reaction?
DANIEL SUAREZ: That was a little funny because I was having lunch with Silvia, my girlfriend, and her family, and I was actually in the middle of everything, and I got a call from Gustavo, and then in the middle of everything, I had to jump out of the middle of lunch, and then I never came back after 40 minutes. And then when I came back, Silvia and her parents, they were asking me what was going on because I came back with a smile like this. So they were asking me what was going on. Well, really I wasn’t able to say anything, so I didn’t say anything.
But yeah, it was just an amazing moment. I wasn’t expecting that at all. I was actually already working with Scott and the amazing team that I had in 2016 in XFINITY to be ready to open the 2017 the same way that we closed in ’16, winning races. And then this came out.
You know, very, very happy for this opportunity. It’s something that we really were waiting for. It came a little bit sooner than what we were expecting, but I think we are ready, and we’re ready to go, and we are ready to start learning about everything and ready to perform well.
JOE GIBBS: Another part of that was when I got through talking to him and telling him what the plan was, I said, you can’t tell anybody. Do you understand? And I said, not your folks. The one thing I forgot to mention was he probably told the girlfriend. But I was so paranoid it was going to get out.
- Daniel, has it set in the historical significance of you being the first full‑time Mexican‑born driver in Cup, and do you get a sense of the historic nature of it from the times that you’ve been in México since you won the XFINITY title?
DANIEL SUAREZ: Yeah, it was amazing. It was just amazing. Bob just mentioned it. When I got to the racetrack in Mexico City for the exhibition race of NASCAR México, it was just unbelievable. I was expecting a good welcome as a champion, but what I lived in that moment, just, I don’t know, five, six hours, it was just unbelievable.
I felt like I was like Bob said, a rock star. Everyone was thanking to me and everyone was asking me for pictures. Actually some big names in México, they were asking me for pictures, where normally three years ago I was asking them for pictures. So it was something huge. It was something huge for me.
I felt like definitely I have a lot of support from the Latin American community, everywhere in Latin America but in México a lot, and it’s just something that it’s hard to explain because a lot of people there saw me grow slowly when I moved to the U.S., when we were having a hard time speaking English, when we were having a hard time finding sponsors to race, and it’s very cool right now to interact with all these people and to be in this position right now, and the most important thing, that they are still supporting me in everything that I race, right now in Cup, in the XFINITY with all the races that we are going to do. So it’s going to be ‑‑ I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun, and like I said, every time that I get to visit México right now, it’s just amazing.
- Coach, last year Dave, Carl and the 19 squad earned six poles, qualifying them for the Clash at Daytona and presumably now that opportunity won’t be taken. Your thoughts on that? And then Daniel, this Daytona 500, probably your first Cup Series start. Going into this completely green, is that how you feel? How do you get up to speed, so to speak, as you prepare for a full season with no experience there?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I think obviously that would be a disappointment. That’s going to be a disappointment for us. But we want to try and do everything we can. The problem with what happened here, there’s just not many opportunities to get Daniel now in the Cup car, which he hasn’t been in before. We want to do everything we can to maximize the test that we have coming at the end of the month.
But the great thing is he’s been in the XFINITY program, and our cars there, there’s going to be some difference for sure and we’ve got a new package now. That’s the other thing, with the lower downforce. It was interesting because Kyle said, I think we always talked to our guys, Kyle, Denny, Matt, and they felt like that Kyle said, let me see what the downforce package is like before we kind of decide how many XFINITY races for Daniel to run, because I think he feels like that’s going to be maybe a difference, a major difference.
But anyway, we’ll miss that, but we’ll be down there for the whole week, and I’m sure we’re going to make a ton of laps.
- Joe, will he test Phoenix?
JOE GIBBS: Yes. Yeah.
DANIEL SUAREZ: I felt like when you have a team like the 19 group in Cup led by Dave Rogers, it just gives you as a rookie, it just gives you a lot of confidence. Going into a big race like the Daytona 500 as your debut in the Cup Series.
As well, I have had an amazing relationship with Carl Edwards, with Kyle Busch and everyone in this organization, but everybody with Carl and with Kyle, and I spoke with them already, and they are all willing to help me and to teach me everything I need, to ask questions, and when you have that kind of support, you just don’t feel alone. You feel like you have a lot of support and you are going to gain that experience as quickly as possible.
I think we are in a very good spot. I couldn’t ask for anything better to start learning about this new part of my life, I guess.
JOE GIBBS: I think one thing I’d like to add. I told Daniel when he came on board, which I tell all the young guys, hey, go to the Cup guys, go to the Cup guys, develop a relationship, ask them. You be the one that goes forward. And in particular I told him to go to Kyle. So after four weeks of this thing, Kyle told me, he’s driving me crazy; he calls me about five times during the week. I think Daniel is kind of the only one that went after that in the right way. Anyway, I think he’s kind of even won Kyle over, fear of phone calls.
THE MODERATOR: I just want to recognize thanks to our friends at NASCAR and NASCAR.com.
- Coach, you have seen it all in sports, and you’ve seen a lot here at Joe Gibbs Racing, injuries, drivers going away, coming back. This was huge when this came out. Can you put this in perspective? A lot of the sports world will be running clips from this on national sports, about a player who leaves early. We’re seeing football players who do that and then surprise us. How do you put this in a perspective of the huge realm of all the things that you’ve seen and kind of how it plays in sports now?
JOE GIBBS: I think both things that I’ve been in, the football world, obviously things changing, it seems like every two hours something is going to happen, so I came over here and I thought it was going to be a little different world, and I found out that’s not going to be the case, and I think J.D. probably put it best. I used to say to J.D., Can you believe this? And he’d go, If it’s not this, it’s going to be something else. And he’d turn around and just walk off. The guys here all know that’s the way J.D. dealt with things.
But I would say this: In big‑time sports when you’ve got people involved in competition, I would say on this side, the fact that we have the sponsors that play a huge hole as our partners, it’s huge, and it’s not just a decision made in here. You know, you realize as soon as something comes up, our first thought is the sponsors. We need to go and have a sit‑down. And so I would say on the NASCAR side that it’s bigger. It’s just a bigger deal because of all the partners that it takes.
And so I think that’s the reason why we’re all fascinated by it. I think that’s the reason why our fans support the products and the sponsors, because they realize, you know, if we don’t have them, you can’t race a car. It’s very expensive.
And so anyway, I’d say on both the things I’ve been in, I’d say NASCAR is huge because of the different people that are involved with it. A lot can happen.
- What about an athlete, though, giving his all and then deciding, I’ve given everything?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I think we’ve seen it at different times. To be truthful, I think that’s why we’re all shocked, because 90 percent of the time, what happens; you have to as a coach, you’ve got to tell a guy you’re done at 35, 36, 37. And so you normally have to tell an athlete, hey, it’s over. You know, and they’re going to argue with you and everything and say, I’ll keep going.
And that’s the reason why Carl’s decision I think is so ‑‑ we were thinking and talking about Barry Sanders. Remember Barry Sanders? He was at the top of his game. This guy was killing it, okay, at running back. He said, that’s it, I’m done. And I don’t think he’s ever looked back.
But we all know ‑‑ the first time I talked to Carl and he brought this up, I said, you do realize, Carl, that every young guy or in lots of cases girls from 19 to 40 want to do what you’re doing, because it’s so rare. But I think he is a rare person, and him choosing this, to your point, it just doesn’t happen. That’s the reason why everybody is going, what, there’s got to be something behind this or we’re looking for something, and really, in this case, I don’t think there’s anything there.
- Ed, obviously Carl was a very, very high‑profile Toyota driver. How and when did you find out about his decision, and what was your input into having Daniel go into the car?
ED LAUKES: So I think after Carl approached Joe, then he reached out to sponsors, and I don’t know the particular order to talk about, and as a partner and having a large investment in Joe Gibbs Racing, obviously, and them having a big investment in us, it was obviously a shock, but ultimately we’ve been there before. When Tony Stewart started his own team and Joey moved through the ranks very quickly, we rallied around it, and said, Joey is going to be great.
There was never an issue with Daniel coming to Cup because we knew eventually he was going to come to Cup, and as a great XFINITY champion and everything that he’s shown since he’s been part of the family, it was just rallying around the decision of Daniel coming, and it was no big deal.
DANIEL SUAREZ: I do want to mention something else. I want to thank everyone in the XFINITY program for an amazing 2016, Scott Graves and the rest of the guys. We had a blast working together, and actually I’m really looking forward ‑‑ something that I mentioned to Steve deSouza and to Coach, that I really wanted to race as many races as possible in the XFINITY Series. I really believe that that series helps other drivers, and right now it’s going to help me a lot to develop and to perform better in the Cup Series.
Like Coach mentioned, right now everything has changed right now with this decision of moving to Cup, but I’m going to still be running 10, 12 races. Right now we’re still working to find some sponsorship for some more races to do, for me as many races as I can do is going to be much better, so I’m really looking forward to that and to stay working with those guys, as well.