Daniel Suárez has made history.
The 30-year-old Suárez became the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race on June 12 at Sonoma Raceway, steering his No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet to the checkered flag.
The victory came in Suárez’s 195th career start at NASCAR’s top level.
“It’s a crazy day. I have so many thoughts in my head right now,” Suárez said, becoming emotional in his victory celebration. “I mean, it’s been a rough road. It’s been a rough journey in the Cup Series. These guys believe in me — Trackhouse Racing, Justin Marks, Ty Norris. Everyone that helped me to get to this point. A lot of people in Mexico: Jay Morales, Carlos Slim. My family, they never gave up on me. A lot of people did, but they didn’t. … Just very happy we were able to make it work.”
Suárez becomes the fifth Cup Series winner born outside the United States. The others: Aussie Marcos Ambrose, Italian-born Mario Andretti, Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia and Canadian Earl Ross.
Suárez is a graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. Before going national, Suárez spent a good chunk of time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, which is now known as the ARCA Menards Series East.
Where Suárez first made his name known was the NASCAR Peak Mexico Series. The Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, native had his first stock-car start there on Sept. 6, 2009. He had four starts that year but then raced five full-time seasons through the 2014 season. Suárez won 10 times between 2012-14, placing a career-best runner-up in the 2013 final standings. His career then took off.
“I’m extremely proud to be the driver from Mexico, the driver from a different background,” Suárez previously told NASCAR.com. “I don’t feel that the sport could have found someone more committed to myself, my culture and my background.”
During his first season with Trackhouse in 2021, Suárez scored one top-five and four top-10 results. He led laps in five different races for a total of 74 laps out front. He averaged a 20.1 finish and placed 25th in the standings.
In just the second event of 2022, Suárez matched his best run from 2021. He came in fourth at Auto Club Speedway, tying his mark in the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Race last season. He also finished fourth three weeks after that at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Safe to say, Suárez is more comfortable and confident in Year 2 with Trackhouse.
“We’re going to win a few races very soon here,” Suárez said after Auto Club. “I just can’t thank everyone enough in my team. We had a fast car, but we went through a lot of adversity. … 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.”
Before Trackhouse, Suárez raced for Gaunt Brothers Racing in 2020. In 2019, Suárez had a career-best four top-five showings, along with 11 top-10 runs. He piloted Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 41 Ford at the time.
From 2017-18, Suárez was with Joe Gibbs Racing in the No. 19 Toyota. His first career Cup Series start came on Feb. 26, 2017, in the Daytona 500, where he placed 29th. His career-best finish — up until his breakthrough win — was a runner-up on July 29, 2018, at Pocono Raceway.
Suárez dominated the Xfinity Series the year before. He won the 2016 title and earned the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award with three wins, 19 top fives and 27 top 10s. It was his second full-time season in the Xfinity Series, both of which were spent with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Marks announced Trackhouse’s formation in October 2020, tabbing Suárez as his driver. Not long after, Armando Perez — better known as Pitbull – became a team partner. Ross Chastain joined the fold before the 2022 season as Suarez’s teammate in the No. 1 Chevy, and he has won twice in 2022.
There’s a strong foundation in place despite the team’s youth.
“You look to my career in the last few years, I haven’t had consistency, and I feel like consistency in racing is something super important,” Suárez said when the team was revealed. “If you can’t have consistency, you cannot be successful. It was very important for me to know I’m going to have everything I need to be competitive and successful — not just next year but as well for what is after that.”
Contributing: Staff reports