Joe Gibbs Racing's latest rookie delivers a solid finish in the Nationwide race at Chicagoland Speedway.
JOLIET, Ill. – Daniel Suarez received rave reviews from his Joe Gibbs Racing crew during his dress rehearsal for the 2015 Nationwide Series season at Chicagoland Speedway.
"You're here to learn today,” Suarez’ crew reminded him over the radio on Saturday. “You're doing a great job"
In his second NNS start, Suarez, 22, posted a 15th-place finish in a field where Sprint Cup drivers Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch swept the top three positions.
Suarez improved from his Nationwide Series debut at Richmond International Raceway in May where he finished 19th.
We’ll keep working and have a lot to learn.
“At Richmond, it was a really good experience, but definitely I came to Chicago with more confidence and knew the car a little bit better,” said the driver of the No. 29 Arris Toyota. “I knew the tires -- it's different and little steps. This was a mile-and-a-half and was better and we’ll keep working and have a lot to learn.”
The Monterrey, Mexico native qualified 18th and maintained his position in the top 20 throughout the 200-lap event. His only miscue was during the first round of pit stops on Lap 27 when Suarez overshot his pit on entry. But Suarez maintained his composure and rolled on.
Although his spotter encouraged Suarez to test the high line early on restarts, the rookie wasn’t comfortable enough to try the upper groove, but that will come.
“Maybe with new tires, like some of the cars, we could be able to be more aggressive on the restarts,” Suarez said. “With old tires and some of the cars on new, it was kind of difficult. As soon as we would get 10 laps on the tires, we were kind of equal to everyone.
"Maybe we missed three or four spots over there, but it’s okay. We learned a lot, it’s a learning experience.”
Back to his day job
Suarez currently leads the Toyota Mexico Racing Series point standings with four races remaining in the schedule. In between his full-time racing duties, Suarez will squeeze in an ARCA race at Kentucky Speedway and a truck race at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 18.
“This is the beginning of our races,” Suarez said. “We have still have a lot to learn, but we qualified 18th and finished 15th, gained three spots. We need to keep working, we need to keep learning.
"We have an ARCA race next weekend in Kentucky, so we need to keep working on this mile-and-a-half and everything to try to get as ready as possible for next year.”