Daniel Suarez Wins His Initial Cup Race Win at Sonoma
SOMONA, CA – RIS - Daniel Suarez dominated the final stage of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday, pulling away at the restart and leading almost from beginning to end, holding off hard charges from Chris Buescher.
Suarez is also the first Mexico-born driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race, and when he came back around to do burnouts and get the checkered flag from the flag stand following the race, a pinata was waiting for him. The ornament, a staple of Mexican household birthdays, got a square punch which broke it open. And after that he didn’t really know what to do.
“It was special. I’ve been waiting and I’ve been working hard for this moment,” Suarez said. “Not just myself, but my entire team.”
Suarez learned English through watching cartoons, and needed assistance from the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program many years ago to keep racing in America. He was set to return to Mexico before the assistance came. He compared his plight to what Latinos in this country go through when they come here for better opportunities.
“If I was able to make it happen, everyone out there can make it happen,” Suarez said. “I feel very, very proud to be an example for many other people.”
Buescher had been ordered to the back of the field due to an uncontrolled gas can in the pit area, but NASCAR overturned the penalty and Buescher was allowed to keep his starting spot. On the restart, Suarez and him were side-by-side going up the hill into turn 1. Suarez was able to finish the pass a few turns later in turn 7, and even with pit stops during the stage, didn’t really look back.
“I knew Buescher was very strong in the short run,” Suarez said. “Probably a little better than me. But in the middle part of the run, I was better than him and in the long run, I feel that I was better than him and I was able to play out very good right there at the end.
“I knew that if I could stay out front for the first 5-10 laps, I was going to be able to control the race.”
Buescher wishes he had been more aggressive on the restart.
“The only thing I could have done was hit him,” he said. “He threw a block down there into a 11 a few times where we were good. He was good at braking, too. Gave him a shot, wasn’t enough to get by him.
“Probably should have given him a little bit more now that I go back and look at it. I try and race clean, too, at the same time, too. The way I grew up racing, that’s not necessarily what we see week in and week out right now. That’s how I grew up and I know that respect will come back on the tail end from Suarez in the future, too. It all goes around.”
For Trackhouse Racing, it’s the third win for the somewhat new team that is co-owned by rapper Pitbull. Their other driver, Ross Chastain, has won two races this year. They have a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing. Suarez was the sole car last season before Trackhouse purchased Chip Ganassi Racing at the end of 2021.
NASCAR Editor at RIS-News since 1994.