He never raced on dirt in his racing career. It was on March 23rd that he jumped into a race car for the first time on dirt, to help prepare himself for the Food City Dirt Race on Monday.
In a topsy-turvy outcome that saw many dirt favorites knocked out early, Trackhouse’s Daniel Suarez stunned the fanbase with a fourth-place finish, one position short of his career-best.
“To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing,” Suarez told FOX Sports’ Vince Welch post-race. “We’re having fun, everyone at Trackhouse Racing did an amazing job, it’s the second week in a row that we’ve had a really fast race car, capable of running up in the top five and the top-10. I couldn’t be more proud of these guys – Justin Marks, Ty Norris, everyone that helps this program. Camping World, Chevy, CommScope… everyone who has been a huge supporter of myself.”
The 29-year-old was one of the handful of Cup drivers that also raced in the Pinty’s Truck Race On Dirt earlier in the day. He was able to bring home his No. 02 Silverado home 17th after being out of the series for nearly five seasons.
After a speeding penalty killed the team’s chances at their first top-10 in Atlanta, the Trackhouse driver was eyeing redemption for a good finish slipping away. Rolling off 18th on Monday, Suarez kept a quiet performance, methodically moving his way up through the field while favorites Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson tangled in Stage one.
After finishing fourth in Stage one, Suarez muscled his way to the second spot in stage two with Martin Truex Jr. in his sights. After the classic bump-and-run for the lead in Turn 4 on Lap 135, he kept the lead for a solid 58 laps, before losing the lead on a restart with just a handful of laps remaining in Stage two.
TO THE LEAD!!!
Go get you some @Daniel_SuarezG 💪 pic.twitter.com/BXJbJ0dB3q
— Trackhouse Racing (@TeamTrackhouse) March 29, 2021
He finished the stage off in the second position, posting the best stage finish for Trackhouse in 2021. After losing the lead to eventual race winner Joey Logano, Suarez remained in the top five in stage three. A late-race overtime shootout seeded Suarez in fifth. After Truex had an issue and went wide into turn one with just two to go, Suarez settled into his eventual finishing position of fourth.
After an abysmal season last year with Gaunt Brothers Racing, the Mexican driver felt a rejuvenation after posting his best finish since Texas in 2019.
Thank you to my team @TeamTrackhouse 💪🏽Thank you @JustinMarksDG & Ty Norris for believing in me. Thank you @CampingWorld, @CommScope, @CocaColaRacing and all my sponsors. & thank you to all the fans who have never stopped supporting me. Today was just the beginning amigos 🚀👊🏽
— Daniel Suárez (@Daniel_SuarezG) March 29, 2021
“It feels so good to be back,” Suarez said. “It’s been difficult the last year, and it feels so good to be able to race with these guys, have some fun upfront, hopefully, our time will come very soon.”
Comparing performances to fellow newcomer 23XI Racing, Trackhouse has the best finish between the two camps by far, with 23XI’s best coming at Atlanta of 16th. In the category of laps led, Trackhouse has led 74 laps so far in 2021, while 23XI only has seven to their tally. The 58 laps led is the most Suarez has ever led in a single Cup race.
In fourth, @Daniel_SuarezG picks up the best finish for @TeamTrackhouse in seven starts, as well as his best finish on a track smaller than one-mile.
Suarez's 58 laps led are the most he's ever led in a single NASCAR Cup Series race.#NASCAR | @NASCAR | #FoodCityDirtRace pic.twitter.com/24jw0bgfp7
— Joseph Srigley (@joe_srigley) March 30, 2021
Thanks to the top-five finish, Suarez sits 20th in positions, gaining three positions since Atlanta and continuing his modest climb from 25th at Las Vegas a few weeks ago.
NASCAR will take the next weekend off for the Easter holiday but will be back in action in Martinsville on Saturday, April 10th at 7:30 PM EST.