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February 27, 2022

Daniel Suárez, Trackhouse make strong late-race bid, corral fourth place at Auto Club

Daniel Suárez had said in the weeks leading up to the 2022 NASCAR season that he was optimistic his first Cup Series win was approaching. Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, he nearly made an early delivery on that promise.

Suárez gave defending series champ Kyle Larson a full-on challenge in the final restart of Sunday’s Wise Power 400 before slipping to fourth place at the checkered flag. That finish matched his best result since joining Trackhouse Racing for its first campaign last season, equaling the fourth-place run in the inaugural dirt-track race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

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For a brief moment, it looked as if Suárez might cash in with Trackhouse’s first victory. Suarez gained six spots in the final exchange of pit stops, and he lined his No. 99 Chevrolet up alongside Larson’s No. 5 when the green flag flew for the final time with four laps remaining.

Suárez briefly went in front on Lap 198 of 200, thanks to a push from fellow Chevy driver Erik Jones. But Suárez only led part of that lap as Larson regained the edge with a frontstretch crossover move that kept him out front for his first win of the season.

Austin Dillon and Jones worked their way by in the closing laps, but Suárez was encouraged by the performance as he reflected on the day.

“We’re going to win a few races very soon here,” said Suárez, who continued after a scrape of the outside retaining wall with 14 laps left. “I just can’t thank everyone enough in my team. We had a fast car, but we went through a lot of adversity. We had a few issues. We hit the wall once. We had an issue with the diffuser. My pit crew, those guys are legends; it’s unbelievable. It’s the best pit crew I’ve ever had, and it’s a lot of fun to race like that.

“Freeway Insurance, Chevrolet, everyone that helps Trackhouse out, to be able to be here and perform this way. I’m happy and I’m honored at the same time. I can tell you that I’m going to work very, very hard to go to Victory Lane very, very soon here.”