Daniel Suarez’s rise to NASCAR
Monday, January 7, 2019
NASCAR Creative Design
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Daniel Suarez is moving to Stewart-Haas Racing to drive the No. 41 Ford for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. This will mark his third year in the sport's top series. His road to NASCAR's top level has had plenty of twists and turns. Here's his journey.
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Suarez had been to Victory Lane several times before reaching NASCAR's national series. He won 10 races in the NASCAR Mexico Series from 2011-14, including five in 2014 as a 22-year-old.
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The victories continued once Suarez started competing in the K&N Pro Series East. The NAPA 150 at Columbus Motor Speedway in 2013 went down as his first victory in the series.
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An impressive start to 2014, Suarez won the New Smyrna 150 Presented by JEGS, the season-opening race ...
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... and followed that up two days later by winning the UNOH Battle at the Beach.
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The start: Daniel Suarez made his first NASCAR Xfinity Series showing on April 25, 2014, at Richmond. He drove the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota and finished 19th.
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In a year of firsts, Suarez finished 15th at Talladega (October 2014) in his first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series start.
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Suarez opened 2015 with a top-10 finish at Daytona, then went to Atlanta to record his first top five in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Suarez finished fourth in his Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.
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Bristol, 2015. Perhaps when Suarez truly put his name on the map. It was the Mexican-born driver's first full-time season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. At Bristol, he hounded Monster Energy Series regular Joey Logano over the final laps, racing clean and hard and ultimately finished second.
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Suarez would finish 2015 with 13 starts in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, notching seven top-five finishes. His runner-up result at Dover in May was his first second-place finish in the Truck Series.
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Following a runner-up showing earlier in the season, Suarez finished fifth at Bristol in August and won the Dash 4 Cash bonus.
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Suarez couldn't catch KBM teammate Erik Jones at Texas in 2015, and Jones won a fuel-mileage race with Suarez coming in second for his second runner-up result in the Truck Series.
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The first of several near misses in 2016 came at Las Vegas. Kyle Busch won the race, but Suarez, who finished second, filled his rearview mirror all day.
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Another first: Suarez's first pole award of 2016, the fourth of his Xfinity Series career. It came at Fontana, and it looked like his first win would follow. Suarez inherited the lead on the final lap when Kyle Busch went low on fuel ... and then Suarez went dry himself on the backstretch and was out of contention.
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Suarez hounded two-time series champion Matt Crafton at Dover this season, but Crafton held on for the win at Dover as Suarez was relegated to yet another second-place finish in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
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Breakthrough! Daniel Suarez passed Kyle Busch just as the white flag dropped at Michigan, then held off his Truck Series boss for his first career Xfinity Series win.
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Make it two. Suarez's second career Xfinity Series win came at Dover during the inaugural Xfinity Series playoff. In addition to punching his ticket to the next round, it set Suarez on a hot tear that would end with another victory in Miami.
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In between his Dover win and Xfinity Series title, Suarez earned his first Gander Outdoors Truck Series victory when he conquered Phoenix in the penultimate race of the year.
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On Nov. 19, 2016, at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Daniel Suarez made history by becoming the first Latin American driver to win a NASCAR national series championship with his win of the inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series postseason.
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'This is a dream come true,' Suarez said after climbing from his No. 19 Toyota. Keep dreaming, Daniel.
Daniel Shirey | Getty Images
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In January 2017, Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Daniel Suarez was moving up to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series to drive the No. 19 Toyota for the departing Carl Edwards. This came on the heels of Suarez's NASCAR Xfinity Series title.
Chris Graythen | Getty Images
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Suarez's first year in Monster Energy Series competition was a success, as the rookie landed 12 top-10 finishes and nearly qualified for the playoffs.
Chris Graythen | Getty Images
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Suarez's best finish to date in the Monster Energy Series came in the July 2018 race at Pocono where he finished as the runner-up to then-teammate Kyle Busch. He finished the season with three top fives and nine top 10s on the season and a 21st-place finish in the standings.