Daniel Suarez Embracing Role Model Status as International NASCAR Start Leader

By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor

A career milestone in NASCAR can come in many forms, typically a first win, the first pole position, or a driver’s 100th career start. For Daniel Suarez, his lengthy career across NASCAR’s three National Touring Series is already a unique milestone for the international driver, allowing him to be a role model for others.

Daniel suarez becomes the all-time combined start leader for internationally born nascar drivers at dover motor speedway.
Daniel Suarez. (Photo by Blake Ulino/Kickin’ the Tires)

The Trackhouse Racing driver long ago surpassed the mark left by Australian Marcos Ambrose. With 376 NASCAR National Touring Series starts the Monterrey, Mexico native is the all-time leader in combined career starts by an internationally born driver. During his NASCAR tenure, Ambrose made 326 combined starts, the most until Suarez passed him over a year ago.

One decade since his first career national series start, the 32-year-old currently has 261 NASCAR Cup Series, 87 Xfinity, and 28 Craftsman Truck Series starts. During that time, Suarez earned two Cup Series victories, including the closest three-wide photo finish in NASCAR history at Atlanta Motor Speedway earlier this season.

“It’s definitely very special, not just to be an international driver with a lot of starts in NASCAR’s (National) series and the Cup Series, but also to have made my way into the sport through the Drive for Diversity program,” Suarez admitted.

“I think that’s a statement that the program works, and I’m not the only one that has gone through that program that is in the Cup Series. I give a lot of credit to NASCAR and everyone that works in the diversity program for continuing to support the young talents, the young kids that come from different places around the world or even here in the United States, African Americans and women trying to make it into a sport.” 

The driver of the No. 99 Freeway Insurance Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 also has three victories and a championship in Xfinity competition and one Truck Series win. He is the only internationally born driver to have at least one victory in each of NASCAR’s three National Touring Series.

Suarez has long been an inspiration to up-and-coming drivers. From Andres Perez de Lara to Regina Sirvent, several drivers are following in the Drive for Diversity alum’s footsteps. NASCAR’s increased presence internationally with divisions in Brazil, Canada, Europe, and Mexico only adds to the significance of Suarez’s career milestone.

“Maybe a little bit (more of a voice),” Suarez said. “I feel like I already have a voice, but I have experience now. I’m not the new guy that is coming up from Mexico, so I definitely have some sort of a voice and definitely for drivers coming from South America and Mexico. I’m definitely one of those drivers that I’m always there to help.” 

Daniel suarez becomes the all-time combined start leader for internationally born nascar drivers at dover motor speedway.
Daniel Suarez. (Photo by Blake Ulino/Kickin’ the Tires)

However, Suarez is not just a role model for drivers. Rather, he is a role model for an entire community. Suarez embodies the spirit of the ‘American Dream,’ of hope, and being able to have that opportunity to achieve that dream.

He first came to the United States in 2011, competing in the then NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (now known as the ARCA Menards Series East). At first he was traveling back and forth between the US and Mexico, competing in the NASCAR Mexico Series as well as K&N Pro. He learned English, at first, by watching cartoons and movies.

“I’m definitely an example right for many, not just from the diversity program, but especially in my community, the Latino and the Spanish community,” Suarez explained. “Not just Latinos that want to come to the sport, but Latinos in general that want to come into this country to look for a dream or for an opportunity. 

“There [are] so many Latinos out there that right now, as we speak, they are trying to come to the United States with a dream without speaking the language, without friends and without money, just like I was 12 years ago. So, for me, it’s a big responsibility, to be a good example to them and try to give them a little push and a little hope and to let them know that if I was able to get here with very little, [that] they can do it too.” 

Now the veteran driver’s longevity can also serve as a benchmark for future generations to aim for. The two-time winner in Cup Series also leads international drivers in Cup starts. He took lead in Cup starts by internationally born drivers from Juan Pablo Montoya at Bristol earlier this season.

“It’s kind of funny, I didn’t know that, and it’s actually very special to be part of the history of the sport and hopefully we continue to build history together,” Suarez said. “I feel like already in my career (which is still) very, very young (that) I still have the best part of my career ahead of me. I’m really looking forward to make the most of it.”

Next for Suarez is the Wurth 400 at Dover Motor Speedway. In 11 starts at ‘The Monster Mile,’ he has one top-five and five top-10 finishes with a best finish of third in 2018.

The Wurth 400 at Dover is scheduled for Sunday, April 28, at 2:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *