Daniel Suarez claims first career NASCAR Cup win at Sonoma

After having come close many times, Daniel Suarez finally has his first career win in the NASCAR Cup Series.

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Suarez held off a stern challenge from Chris Buescher on a restart with 22 of 100 laps remaining and cruised to a 3.849-second win Sunday at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, earning his first career win.

“I (expletive) love you guys,” Suarez screamed over his team radio as he took the checkered flag.

With the victory, Suarez, 30, becomes the first native Mexican driver to win a Cup Series race.

“It’s crazy day. I have so many thoughts in my head right now. I mean, it’s been a rough road,” Suarez said after climbing from his No. 99 Chevrolet. “It’s been a rough journey in the Cup Series.

“These guys believe in me, Trackhouse Racing, Justin Marks, Ty Norris. Everyone that helped me to get in this point. I lot of people in Mexico: Jay Morales, Carlos Slim. My family, they never give up on me. A lot of people did, but they didn’t.

“Just very happy we were able to make it work.”

Asked what it was about Trackhouse Racing that made such a good fit for him in the Cup Series, Suarez said, “Their energy. They believe in me since day one. They believe in me. All the people, all the resources to make it happen.’

Suarez – who debuted in NASCAR competition in his native Mexico in 2009 – became the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR national series race in 2016 with his Xfinity Series victory at Michigan. He was among the first success stories to come out of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program.

Suarez went on to win the 2016 Xfinity championship and moved to the Cup Series fulltime for the first time in 2017 with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Suarez joins Trackhouse Racing teammate Ross Chastain in the 2022 Cup Series playoffs. Chastain had already won twice this season.

“Daniel Suarez and (crew chief) Travis Mack helped build Trackhouse,” said team co-owner Justin Marks. They’ve been working so hard together. They’ve been so focused, so dedicated trying to get to Victory Lane.

“The No. 1 car (Chastain) winning two races this year was tough on them but they’ve never given up. I’m so proud and happy for them.”

Michael McDowell ended up third, Kevin Harvick fourth and Austin Cindric rounded out the top-five.

Completing the top-10 were Ryan Blaney, Chastain, Chase Elliott, William Byron and Brad Keselowski, giving RFK Racing a pair of top-10 finishes.

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Stage 3

During the break between Stages 2 and 3, those drivers who did not pit before the stage break did so – including Joey Logano – and Buescher stayed out and inherited the lead.

On the restart on Lap 61, Buescher led the way followed by Suarez, Harvick, McDowell and Blaney.

Entering Turn 7 on the restart, Suarez went to the inside of Buescher and grabbed the lead for the first time in the race. Buescher went wide and slid back to fourth.

On Lap 66, Harvick moved into second behind Suarez and began challenging him for the lead.

With 40 laps remaining, Buescher got back around Harvick and moved back into the runner-up position.

Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch were among the first drivers to make their final green-flag pit stops on Lap 76 for new tires and fuel to make it to the finish.

With 30 laps to go, Suarez had yet to pit and led Buescher by more than 2 seconds as Harvick remained in third. All three still had to make a final stop in the race.

Harvick and Buescher pit on Lap 81. Suarez came in on Lap 82.

Larson had the left-front wheel come off from his No. 5 Chevrolet in Turn 2 on Lap 83 which brought out the fourth caution of the race.

Once those lead-lap cars pit under the caution who had not yet done so, Suarez inherited the lead. When the race restarted on Lap 88, Suarez was followed by Buescher, Blaney, McDowell and Kyle Busch.

With 15 laps to go, Suarez maintained a little more than a half-second lead over Buescher as McDowell ran third.

With five laps remaining, Suarez has pushed his advantage over Buescher to more than 2 seconds.

Stage 2

With most lead-lap cars pitting before the stage break, Logano stayed out and held off Aric Almirola for the Stage 2 win.

Buescher was third, Suarez fourth and Harvick rounded out the top-five.

During the break between Stages 1 and 2, those who had not yet pit – including Kyle Larson – did so and Elliott remained on the track and inherited the lead.

On the restart on Lap 30, Elliott was followed by Buescher, Tyler Reddick, Chastain and McDowell. Larson lined up 24th.

By Lap 39, Larson had worked his way back up to 15th as Elliott continued to lead the way up front.

With 10 laps remaining in the stage, Elliott had pushed his lead over Buescher to 1.3 seconds as Suarez moved into third.

On Lap 49, Chastain spun off course in Turn 7 but was able to return to the track and continued on without need of a caution.

Several drivers began making green-flag pit stops prior to the stage break on Lap 53, including Martin Truex Jr., Reddick, Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Blaney and Elliott.

Reddick was penalized for speeding and Elliott was tagged for pitting outside the box and both had to restart at the rear of the field at the start of third stage.

 

Logano inherited the lead on Lap 53 when Elliott pit.

Stage 1

Larson cruised to the Stage 1 victory by 11.8 seconds over Logano as most of the lead-lap cars pit prior to the stage break.

Kyle Busch was third, Justin Haley fourth and Almirola rounded out the top-five.

Larson started on the pole and took early command of the race as Elliott remained close behind.

On Lap 11, the engine let go in Bubba Wallace’s No. 23 Toyota, which dropped fluid on the track and forced NASCAR to display a caution.

“I don’t know what happened. I was running an OK race. Was about to complain about a lack of rear grip and she just blew up,” Wallace said. “I tried to replay every lap, never went the wrong way. Got hung up in second (gear) one time, but I don’t know. Sucks.”

A handful of cars elected to pit under the caution, including Kyle Busch, Haley, A.J. Allmendinger and William Byron, while Larson stayed out and in the lead.

The race returned to green on Lap 14 with Larson followed by Elliott.

Erik Jones went off course on Lap 16 in Turn 2 but was able to continue on without need of a caution.

With five laps to go in the stage, Larson maintained about a 2-second lead over Elliott with Buescher in third.

Several drivers elected to pit prior to the stage break but Larson remained on the track as Logano moved up to second.

Allmendinger, Christopher Bell and Jones had to start the race from the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments to their respective cars. Cody Ware started from the rear and had to serve a pass-through penalty after taking the green flag for multiple inspection failures on Saturday.

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