Daniel Suarez banked his fourth top-10 finish of the NASCAR Cup Series season Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, but that stat came with a tinge of remorse over late-race contact with playoff contender Martin Truex Jr.
Truex finished 25th, retiring 14 laps from the end of the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500, while Suarez went on to place 10th after a tap from his No. 99 Chevrolet sent Truex’s No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota hard into the Turn 4 wall.
The Trackhouse Racing driver said he regretted the contact, but he also defended his racing tactics. Suarez said Truex had cut off his advances, a pace made quicker by fresher tires.
“I feel so bad for him. I feel like I ruined the race for him, but he just can’t be doing that,” said Suarez, who missed the playoffs in his first year with the start-up Trackhouse group. “I’m racing as well here. I have a lot of respect for the guys in the playoffs. But one thing is respect, another is taking advantage of the situation. He wasn’t even close to being clear and I don’t know why he did that. We’re in the last 10 to 12 laps of the race; I’ve got tires and he doesn’t have tires. I don’t know, I think he’s just got to be a little smarter.”
The Texas race marked Suarez’s best result since a seventh-place finish in June at Nashville Superspeedway. A Lap 166 caution period for debris allowed him to get back on the lead lap, where he stayed until the end. But Suarez felt like more positions were in the offing with the benefit of fresher tires for the series of late-race restarts.
“It was a good day — up and down,” Suarez said. “I feel like we probably missed it a little bit on the adjustments in the middle of the race. And then right there at the end, during one of the stops when everyone came for tires and I was the first car without tires, I feel like we should have come for tires. We deserve maybe a little bit better, but we’ll have to keep working.”