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May 19, 2024

Daniel Suárez irked by recent skid: ‘I’m not designed to be running like this’

Daniel Suárez in the North Wilkesboro Speedway infield for Cup Series practice
Sean Gardner
Getty Images

NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. — Daniel Suárez took two minutes and 23 seconds out of his drive home from last weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway to make an impassioned plea to his supporters to stick with him. The reel he posted to Instagram offered an apology after his 24th-place finish that Sunday, expressing his frustration during this recent rough stretch of performance for his No. 99 Trackhouse Racing team.

Suárez is virtually assured of a spot in the Cup Series Playoffs based on his three-wide victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the second event of the season, but his subpar results in most of the races since had clearly taken a toll. That all fueled his social-media address to his fans.

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“The way I see it, there is a lot of people that come from very far away, and I see them every week because I go to the merchandise hauler to sign our autographs for them for 30 minutes,” Suárez said Friday at North Wilkesboro Speedway, after his arrival for All-Star Weekend events. “And I see people that come from many different places around the country with Mexican flags to support me, and I don’t feel like I’ve been doing good lately. If my driver is running 30th, that sucks. You know, that’s not good. And I feel like they deserve better, and I’m not saying that I’m not doing the work, because actually I am putting the work and my team is putting in the work.

“We just are in a point right now where we are not fast, and we have to figure it out, and I just wanted to let them know that is not going unnoticed. I feel that they deserve better, and I would like to see people with Mexican flags in the grandstands and people support me with their kids, and me running like that, that’s just not me. Like, if this was my normal, I would retire tomorrow because this is not … I’m not designed to be running like this.”

Suárez missed the postseason cut last year, and the organization juggled its crew chief lineup, bringing in Matt Swiderski from Kaulig Racing as a replacement for Travis Mack on the No. 99 team. His Atlanta victory in February sealed a playoffs return, but Suárez has just one top-10 finish — a fifth at Texas — in the 11 races that followed. Six of the last eight races have netted results outside the top 20, leaving the 32-year-old driver 18th in the overall Cup Series points.

That placement in the standings won’t change after this weekend’s All-Star festivities, where no points are on the line. But Suarez says his No. 99 Chevrolet team is striving to gain some short-track knowledge this weekend at North Wilkesboro, as the organization redoubles its efforts for the second half of the regular season before the 10-race playoff stretch begins.

“It’s not a secret the last few weeks, we’ve been a 30th-place car, and we’ve been finishing 25th with it, so we have some work to do,” Suárez said. “This is what I told my team: We have two months to figure it out. Two months to figure it out, and I say two months because I would like to have one month before the playoffs, to have the mentality of playoffs. Because if we think that we’re going to go into the playoffs and flip a switch and just be great, that won’t happen. No matter who it is, that doesn’t exist. So we have to just be ready when the time comes.”