Daniel Suarez has won the NASCAR Cup Series for the first time after dominating the race at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday.

In the Toyota / Save Mart 350, Suarez led the most laps (47) and beat Chris Buescher by 3.8 seconds. After the final caution flew with 28 laps to go, it was crew chief Travis Mack’s pit strategy that put Suarez towards the head of the field and allowed him to cycle to the race lead.

While Suárez was ecstatic to become the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race, he was soon overcome by gratitude and flashbacks of his motorsports career. 

He also considered the thousands of followers that cheered him on from throughout the continent and beyond, including several hundred red-shirted fans in the Sonoma grandstands as part of his Daniel’s Amigos outreach initiative.

“I just feel extremely lucky,” Suárez said after holding off Chris Buescher to the checkered flag. “I’m fortunate to be that driver that the whole Hispanic community can connect with.”

“I feel like I have an entire country and community behind me… The people wearing red shirts today, those are my people.”

“Some of them, they have exactly the same journey I have — coming from Mexico, not knowing the language, trying to find an opportunity, having goals and trying to make that dream happen. These are my people, and I feel lucky to be the person to represent all of them.”

Despite such profound sentiments, the 30-year-old Monterrey native who finally triumphed in the 195th career start of a Cup Series career that began in 2017 was not solemn. He promptly called for the taco-shaped piata he’d kept on hand for his first win once his tears dried in the car, and he celebrated by punching a hole in it with his fist.

“Nobody knows how much sweat, sacrifice and tears this has caused me,” Suárez said. “This whole time, I was always dreaming about winning in the Cup Series.”

Suárez’s Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet won the third Cup Series race of the season for the rising two-year-old team co-owned by former driver Justin Marks and music superstar Pitbull.

Suárez passed Buescher and claimed the lead early in the last stage on this hilly road circuit in Northern California wine region, and he held on to the lead despite a pit stop and a caution with 23 laps to go. Buescher pushed him hard, but Suárez rolled to victory without making any major errors.

Buescher’s second-place performance in his RFK Racing Ford was also a season high. He came up just short of winning for the second time in his career. Michael McDowell, Kevin Harvick, Austin Cindric, Ryan Blaney, Chastain, Elliott, William Byron, and Brad Keselowski finished in the top ten respectively, after challenging with 15 laps remaining.

Suárez is the fifth foreign-born driver to win a Cup Series race, and the first to do so in each of NASCAR’s three national series. In 2016, he won the Xfinity Series championship, as well as a Truck Series event.

Suárez’s and Trackhouse Racing’s performance could be a welcome boost for a sport looking to expand its cultural footprint. Suárez is a major success story for NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity programme, which aims to bring new perspectives and backgrounds to a largely monocultural organisation for much of its history.

After moving to the United States 11 years ago with a desire to race on bigger stages, Suárez is a major success story for NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity programme, which aims to bring new perspectives and backgrounds to a largely monocultural organisation for much of its history.

The series returns after the break on Sunday, June 26 at Nashville Superspeedway.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: