Timing appears to be everything for Daniel Suarez’s late-season surge toward what could be his first NASCAR championship.
Suarez began his first full season in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series as one of its most consistently strong performers but during a four-race stretch late in the summer, he finished 23rd or worse three times.
Suarez, who became the first Mexican driver to win a NASCAR national series race with his Xfinity victory at Michigan in June, appears to have not only righted the ship, but is running better than ever now that the series’ inaugural Chase is underway.
“Something really good about my team is that we have a lot of chemistry. We don’t give up, we work really hard,” Suarez, 24, said. “When we have bad days, we work even harder.
“I really like my team because we are together – we win together and we’ve lost together. We just have a lot of communication. A couple months ago, we were having a lot of conversations because we needed to find more speed and we were working hard to try to make that speed happen.”
That is not a problem of late.
Hitting their stride at the right time
Entering Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway, Suarez and his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing team have strung together seven consecutive finishes of eighth or better, including one win (at Dover, Del.) and an average finish of 2.0 through the first three races of the Chase.
In 29 starts this season he has two wins and a series-leading 15 top-five finishes.
While his teammate at JGR, Erik Jones, entered the Chase as its No. 1 seed with help from four wins, Suarez has been the stronger team since the run to the championship began. Jones struggled to advance into the second round behind finishes of 28th, 16th and fifth in the first three races.
“I feel like every single race we’ve been working hard on trying to find new things and sometimes we miss a little bit and when we do miss it a little bit we finish in the top-five,” Suarez said.
“That’s something good that we have as a team – that we are consistent and we know when we need to finish in the top-three, top-five. So, I’m very proud of my team. I feel we have some good momentum going.
“We have fast race cars and really looking forward for the next couple months.”