What looked to be a career day for Trackhouse Racing and Daniel Suarez was halted after a speeding penalty late in Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.
Nevertheless, the Monterrey, Mexico driver was able to rebound to a 17th place finish, just one position short of his best finish thus far in 2021.
The day for Trackhouse began in a historic manner. Due to crew chief Travis Mack being suspended one-race due to a lugnut violation in Phoenix, Engineer José Blasco-Figueroa was tapped to call the shots for Suarez on Sunday. This marked the first time that a Mexican crew chief and driver were paired in a Cup Series race since 1959.
— Trackhouse Racing (@TeamTrackhouse) March 21, 2021
The race for Suarez and Trackhouse was rather quiet. Rolling off 25th, the team kept their car clean, on their way to a Stage one finish of 19th. The team managed to stay on the lead lap after a hard-charging Kyle Larson failed to put Suarez a lap down as the stage came to an end.
Heading into stage two, a crash took out Kurt Busch when his brother Kyle spun his tires on the initial start. After a brief pit stop, Suarez was able to charge from 19th to the top-10, where he would spend a majority of stage two. During a cycle of green-flag pit stops on lap 161, Suarez was able to lead a lap under green before diving onto pit road. Ending stage two, Trackhouse scored their first stage point of the season, thanks to a tenth place finish.
As the final stage began, Suarez kept himself in the top-10, even passing Chase Elliott under green. As the final round of green-flag pit stops began with less than 60 laps to go, the No. 99 came down pit road for a set of Goodyear tires and fuel. But Suarez was caught speeding in section 13, forcing him to perform a drive-through penalty under green. After the speeding penalty, Suarez was forced to fight his way back into contention being one lap down. He’d have to settle for 17th at the end of what could have been a banner day for the team.
Nevertheless, spending time in the top-10 for a great majority of the race is a big step for a young team like Trackhouse.
“I’m very proud of everyone in this group,” Suarez said. “They work very, very hard. They build a very fast car. It was a car capable of finishing in the Top 10, that’s for sure. I made a mistake on my part that kind of got us out of contention. But it’s something very good to build on.”
The Trackhouse team recorded their third top 20 finish in six races. An impressive feat, even having to adapt to a brand-new crew chief on the fly.
“Yeah, he was good,” said Suarez. “José and I already know each other. So it was hood to have Jose today on the box, although we do miss Travis (Mack). Travis is very, very good and he already knows me. This was the first time ever working with Jose making the calls. I feel like, overall, it was a positive day. It’s just not the result we deserve.”
Suarez now sits 23rd in points, gaining one position since last weekend in Phoenix. He’ll look to keep the climb going in the point standings when he visits Bristol for the Food City Dirt Race. Coverage begins at 3:30 PM EST on FOX and the FOX Sports app.