The No. 99 Chevy of Daniel Suárez gets service in the Darlington Raceway garage
Zack Albert | NASCAR Digital Media

Suárez, No. 99 to serve pass-through penalty after inspection issues at Darlington

DARLINGTON, S.C. — The No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet of Daniel Suárez failed pre-qualifying technical inspection three times on Saturday morning at Darlington Raceway, presenting an early obstacle in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs opener. 

Suárez was not allowed to post a lap during Saturday’s Busch Light Pole Qualifying session, and he will perform a pass-through penalty after taking the green flag on the track in Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500 (USA Network, 6 p.m. ET, NBC Sports App, MRN, Sirius XM). The No. 99 team will also lose pit selection and will be without car chief Eddie D’Hondt Jr., who was ejected for the remainder of the weekend.

MORE: Darlington schedulePlayoff standings

Suárez qualified for the 16-driver postseason field for the first time this year, sealing his eligibility with a regular-season victory — his first in the Cup Series — at Sonoma Raceway. The first leg of his playoff quest will begin with a starting spot at the back of the 36-car pack, but with a grueling 500-mile distance to make up the lost ground.

“Yeah, we should be fine,” said Suárez, the playoff grid’s 13th seed. “It’s definitely not an ideal situation, but is what it is. We have to bounce back. We definitely won’t let this bring us down.”

Race officials also penalized the No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports Ford team and owner/driver BJ McLeod for two failures in pre-qualifying inspection. Engineer Chris Stanley was ejected, and the No. 78 team will also lose pit-stall selection for Sunday’s 500. No other cars were flagged in early inspection.

Suárez ranked 16th on the practice chart during Saturday’s warm-up, and that speed ranked 10th relative to the other playoff-eligible drivers. Travis Mack, crew chief for the No. 99, said that he was encouraged by the preliminary performance after a post-practice debrief with his driver.

“Just fighting a little of this, a little of that. Nothing major,” Mack said when asked what tripped the inspection woes, noting that the tolerances were off in the 10- to 12-thousandths range. “… Nothing that we pushed any harder than normal. It’s just luck of the draw this week that for some reason, we failed three different things. So it’s back and forth, but it’s all right. We got it fixed up and didn’t hurt the car at all, so we’re good.”

Suárez joined teammate Ross Chastain in leading Trackhouse’s two-car effort into the playoffs this season. Earlier this year, Suárez notched a 10th-place finish at Darlington, and Chastain led 26 laps and won Stage 2 before a crash short-circuited his day.

Chastain will start Sunday’s playoff opener in 12th. His teammate will have a steeper climb.

“I think one of the worst things you can do to me is to put pressure and to challenge me,” Suárez said. “I’m gonna bounce back.”