When the No. 96 CommScope Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing (GBR) takes to the track at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway for this year’s traditional Labor Day-weekend Southern 500, it will take part in the track’s annual Throwback Weekend festivities, this year themed “NASCAR Champions … Past, Present and Future,” with a bona fide NASCAR champion strapped into the cockpit – its driver Daniel Suárez.
The 28-year-old fourth-year NASCAR Cup Series competitor from Monterrey, Mexico will proudly sport the paint scheme of the sponsor that rode along with him during his history-making drive to the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship, then known as ARRIS, now CommScope. With his three victories, 19 top-five finishes, 27 top-10s and 347 laps led during the 33-race Xfinity Series campaign in 2016, Suárez became the first Latin American-born champion of a NASCAR national series. He clinched his title with a dominating victory in his No. 19 ARRIS Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing at the season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he started on the pole, led a race-high 133 laps, and beat runner-up Ty Dillon by .968 of a second.
“That’s a very nice scheme, it gives me goosebumps,” said Suárez, who the previous year also made history in his No. 19 ARRIS Toyota by earning 2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series Rookie of the Year honors, another NASCAR first for a Latin American-born driver. “I’m very excited, but at the same time I’m a bit concerned because, when you’re throwing back to yourself, that means you’re getting old (laughs). Seriously, there have been many changes since my 2016 Xfinity championship, but one constant has been my sponsor ARRIS, who is now CommScope. I want to thank CommScope for sticking with me all these years. Not only has CommScope stuck with me, they have helped millions of race fans stay connected at the racetrack, at home and everywhere in-between with their wireless technologies. I also want to thank my team owner Marty Gaunt, and Toyota and Coca-Cola because I wouldn’t be where I am today without their support. I can’t wait to drive this car at Darlington.”
CommScope is in its sixth year sponsoring Suárez, a relationship that began during his 2015 and 2016 Xfinity Series seasons, continued during his 2017 and 2018 seasons as driver of the No. 19 NASCAR Cup Series Toyota at Gibbs and his 2019 season as driver of the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing entry in the Cup Series, and arrived with him this year for his first season with the single-car GBR Toyota team. So far in 2020, Suárez has three top-20 finishes, seven top-25s and has been running at the finish in each race he’s contested – that’s 22 in a row, making him and points leader Kevin Harvick the only drivers to do so.
“First of all, this has been a total surprise to Daniel, and I can’t believe we pulled off keeping it a secret from him for as long as we did,” said Gaunt, whose team, founded in 2010, is in the midst of its first full-time season since joining the Cup Series ranks in 2018. “We are definitely pleased to be able to highlight and honor Daniel’s Xfinity championship paint scheme for the throwback at Darlington. In particular, because it not only pays homage to Daniel and his championship team, but to Toyota, CommScope and Coca-Cola, as well. These partners have been loyal throughout their many years in NASCAR and continue to be with Gaunt Brothers Racing.”
The Southern 500 is set for Sunday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. EDT and will be televised live by NBCSN.