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April 1, 2023

Daniel Suárez reacts to COTA penalty, finds resolution with Trackhouse teammate Ross Chastain

RICHMOND, Va. – Daniel Suárez said that he was not expecting to be penalized for his post-race actions last weekend at the Circuit of The Americas and that he and teammate Ross Chastain have moved on from their pit-road disagreement.

Suárez’s remarks came Saturday morning at Richmond Raceway, where qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series was washed away by a series of showers. He will start 20th in the 37-car field for Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) here at the 0.75-mile track.

NASCAR officials penalized Suárez on Wednesday, issuing a $50,000 fine for his actions on the cooldown lap in last Sunday’s Cup Series race. After contact in overtime dropped him from the top five to a 27th-place result in the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix, Suárez bumped past Chastain, his Trackhouse Racing teammate, at the pit-road entrance to express his frustration with Alex Bowman.

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Suárez’s No. 99 Chevrolet made contact with the back bumper of Bowman’s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy on pit road in close proximity to race officials. That action violated Section 4.4.B&D (Member Conduct) in the NASCAR Rule Book. Suárez said that satellite data showed his car’s speed at less than 20 miles an hour as he initiated that contact.

“I mean, it was very slow, and also, the 48 car, he was brake-checking me, so you know, we’re not going quick,” Suárez said. “There was one official there, and that was wrong. But yeah, I wasn’t expecting anything, but this is what it is. NASCAR wants to send a message, and it’s OK. I’m OK with that. You know, it’s not right what I did, but I don’t think that anything else was going to happen. I wasn’t going to kill somebody like a lot of people thought I was going to, but it is what it is. I’m already moved on from that.”

Suárez exchanged words with Bowman and Chastain on pit road after all three exited their cars. Chastain had knocked Bowman’s car into Suárez’s in COTA’s sharp Turn 1 in a late-race restart, a move that derailed Suárez’s strong day.

The internal friction between teammates was brief but testy, and both Suárez and Chastain said they’d agreed this week to move past the incident.

“Yeah, we just have to, we have to get it mended,” Chastain said. “So that’s, there’s no other way because we’re family. We’re in the same house, right? It’s in our name, it’s Trackhouse. So no matter what, no matter what we all think, we have to put that behind us and know that moving forward, we’re brothers. We don’t always get to pick our family, but we’re brothers at Trackhouse, and we’re going to be stronger together.”

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Suárez said that team founder Justin Marks was not needed as an intermediary in their squabble and that the two worked to resolve their issues independently. He added that the recent hot-button topic of racing with respect and the fraught nature of the drivers’ on-track code of conduct was a larger issue that’s contributed to the hurt feelings and the multiple instances of late-race contact at COTA.

“We just worked it out on our own,” Suárez said. “I mean, we already, we know what we did. We know it’s not the first time we’ve been in this position and probably won’t be the last one. You know, that’s part of racing. Both cars on the consistent basis, we’re running in the top five. We’re gonna have situations like this. Sometimes, I’m going to be unhappy with him, and sometimes, he’s gonna be unhappy with me, so it’s part of racing. I don’t see it as a big deal when it comes to Trackhouse. There is no story there. I think the big picture is a problem, you know, what we are doing as a 40-driver group that’s not right. Hopefully, we can fix it, and like I said, if we don’t fix it, the group of drivers that are not doing this kind of thing, they’re just going to join the party and we’re gonna make this embarrassing circus even bigger.”

Bowman, who will start from the pole position in Sunday’s 400-lapper, was the third wheel in the low-key Trackhouse tiff. He said that he and Suárez had watched the video replay of the incident together and felt that they had an understanding afterward.

“Yeah, as far as I know,” Bowman said. “I mean, I’m sure he’s mad that he got run over, but I mean, when my rear tires are off the ground getting in the corner because his teammate’s got me jacked up and his teammate’s getting pushed by another guy, what are you going to do, right?”