Daniel Suarez: ‘We have to race hard’

Photo By: Nigel Kinrade Photography / NKP

By Sarah Handy, Staff Writer

Daniel Suarez will have one more opportunity to lock himself into next Sunday’s Daytona 500, that being the BlueGreen Vacation Duels on Thursday.

Suarez’s qualifying lap of 185.479 mph on Sunday afternoon placed him 36th on the speed charts.

It wasn’t enough to lock himself into next Sunday’s field.

However, he will have one more go at making ‘The Great American Race’ on Thursday evening.

In a deal that only came together last month to pilot the No. 96 Toyota for Gaunt Brothers Racing full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, Suarez knew the team would have a lot of challenges coming into Daytona Speedweeks.

“We have to race, we have to race hard. We knew that we would have a lot of challenges and that we didn’t also have the raw speed, but I know what I can do,” Suarez said

Suarez was eligible to run Sunday’s Busch Clash at Daytona, but the team’s main focus was on the Daytona 500 car.

“That was really the main goal, to focus on the Daytona 500 car. Obviously, we just didn’t do enough of a good job, but we have to push hard, and we have to keep working and try to keep up,” Suarez said.

“I know that – obviously, we all know that the car doesn’t have the raw speed that we were expecting. We all were pretty shocked yesterday to see that, but I know what I can do, and I know that I’m fast. I think we’ll be in good shape on Thursday. We just have to stay out of trouble.”

After a brief hiatus away from Toyota Racing Development, Suarez reunites with the manufacturer in 2020.

Daniel Suarez joins Gaunt Brothers Racing for 2020

However, does the 28-year old feel he needs to stay with other Toyota’s in Thursday’s duels?

Suarez stated at this point he has to try and do his own thing and what’s best for him.

“We just have to do our thing and try to do what is best for myself.  Unfortunately, there is not many Toyota’s out there. Who knows? I hope I get lucky and get as many (Toyota’s) as possible in my duel, but we’ll see. If that happens, great. If it doesn’t, I will have to just do my thing.”

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