NASCARNASCAR Cup SeriesPit Crew Aids Suarez in Top-Five Finish at Auto Club

Pit Crew Aids Suarez in Top-Five Finish at Auto Club

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

Late-race pit stops, and mid-race repairs allowed Daniel Suarez to challenge for the win and take a top-five finish at Auto Club Speedway.

When the caution waved with eight laps to go in the WISE Power 400, Suarez was just outside the top-five. A fast pit stop by the No. 99 Freeway Insurance Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE team moved the Trackhouse Racing driver up to second. Ahead of the final restart Suarez opted to take the inside lane, lining up alongside race leader Kyle Larson.

The 30-year-old NASCAR Cup Series driver slipped behind Larson as the field moved through Turns 1 and 2. With three laps to go, a push from fellow Team Chevy driver Erik Jones put Suarez in the lead entering Turn 1. He cleared Larson and led the field through the next set of corners. On the frontstretch, the Hendrick Motorsports retook the lead as Suarez lost momentum.

Over the final two laps, Suarez slipped from the lead down to second, and then third. Jones took third on the final lap. Suarez held off a charge from Joey Logano to take his first top-five finish of the season.

“That was the best pit crew I’ve ever had,” admitted Suarez. “It was crazy have a good pit crew like that. I just can’t wait to keep going in the season. Very, very happy to continue working with them. Mentally and physically, I feel great; my car is a little hurt right now. It was good, today we did an amazing job. It feels amazing to have a team like this behind you that support you all the time.”

Although he had the opportunity to challenge for the victory, Suarez didn’t believe that his team deserved to win at Auto Club. He ran towards the front throughout much of the race. However, contact with the outside wall damaged the rear diffuser. A lack of front grip on the short run also put Suarez at a disadvantage in the short run to the finish. While the pit crew were able to fix the diffuser, they ran out of time to aid the front grip.

“Today, we didn’t deserve the win, but we deserved second,” explained Suarez. “That’s what matters. My car was good, but it wasn’t quite as good as the top-five guys. In the long run, I think I can race with them. In the short run I was just a little bit too tight. I just didn’t have enough grip in the front to stay with them. We made a few mistakes in the race. The diffuser broke so we had to make a lot of pit stops to fix the diffuser.

“We’ll go home, clean up a few things, and then we’ll deserve that win. We’re going to get it and we’re going to enjoy it.”

Suarez’s top-five at Auto Club could be the last on the 2-mile configuration. In early 2020, NASCAR announced plans to turn the facility into a short track. However, NASCAR’s plans remain in limbo due to various factors.

“I hope (the track) stays like this,” states Suarez. “I love racing in California. Hope that we come more often, California is an amazing place. For me it’s almost like racing at home (in Monterrey, Mexico).”

The fourth-place finish was Suarez’s first top-five finish in the Cup Series since the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt race last season. It was also his 10th career top-five in 181 career starts. It was also his first top-10 finish since the Texas Motor Speedway playoff race last year.

Featured Photo Credit: Photo by Rachel Schuoler / Kickin’ the Tires.

Seth Eggert
Seth Eggert
Growing up in Northern New Jersey, Seth grew up in a family of NASCAR fans. He was always determined to have a career in the industry. While in college, Seth bought a subscription to iRacing. As an avid iRacer, Seth took an opportunity to start a journalism career at iRacingNews covering the IndyCar Open Oval Series. He spent four years at iRacingNews before moving towards coverage of motorsports in the real world. In 2016, Seth joined Tribute Racing, which then became Motorsports Tribune as a Staff Writer. That same year, he graduated from Mitchell Community College with an Associate’s Degree in History. He joined the Kickin’ the Tires team as a Staff Writer and eSports Editor in late 2019. When he is not writing or covering NASCAR or iRacing, Seth works at Mitchell Community College as an Administrator in their Mooresville campus tutoring center. He is also qualified to tutor up to 38 different classes ranging from Communications to History to Math to various electives.


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