Suarez overcame many hurdles on the road to first NASCAR Xfinity win
The path from growing up in Mexico to victory in NASCAR’s second-biggest series has been a long one for Daniel Suarez and filled with numerous obstacles.
It’s no wonder after his win Saturday he was especially grateful to everyone who had played a role.
Suarez’s biggest hurdle when he first arrived from Mexico five years ago? Learning English.
“I wasn’t able to communicate with anyone. After that, I start to learn how to be a little fast on the race car. Everything that I came from in Mexico is a little different,” Suarez said following his victory in the Menards 250 Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.
Transitioning to the big leagues of stock car racing
“Even when I race NASCAR for a few years down in Mexico, the style of driving is just very different. The race tracks are from a different world. It definitely help me to learn the rules and all that stuff.
“But the real deal is here. So, I start to learn a lot of new things once I move to the U.S. one of my dreams was to make it to the national series. I was a huge fan of Joe Gibbs Racing, I’m not joking. It was dream to be part of this organization one day. Three years and a half later, here we are.”
Suarez, 24, became the first Mexican-born driver to win in NASCAR’s three national series – Sprint Cup, Xfinity and Trucks – and he did it in superb fashion, passing Kyle Busch – his JGR teammate and the Xfinity Series’ all-time wins leader – on the next-to-last lap for the victory.
“It means a lot. At the same time a lot is the help that (Busch’s) been bringing to the table, to this program. Really, he’s been super helpful to make this program better in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Joe Gibbs Racing,” Suarez said.
“Really, we all work to go the same direction. With the experience he has, with the laps he has in every single race track, really he brings a lot to the table. We are at this point thanks to a lot of the help that he’s been bringing to the table, for sure.”
Paving the way
Many have contributed to Suarez’s rise, including Busch, JGR, Toyota Racing and the numerous drivers he has befriended along the way who have offered him answers to his numerous questions.
“Definitely is a great opportunity that Joe Gibbs Racing gave me, Drive For Diversity, NASCAR – when I move to the U.S. five years ago without an opportunity. For me to now drive to help some of the young drivers from Latin America, not just from Mexico, but from everywhere in Latin America, to come to this sport is great,” he said.
“To be able to be an example, something that we can help to bring more people, for me is great. I'm very proud to be Latin American driver. I’m very proud to be with Joe Gibbs Racing – a great family and great organization.”
A "monumental win for NASCAR"
Toyota Racing Development president David Wilson called Suarez’s victory “a monumental win for NASCAR.”
“He has been so close and I think on a human level you worry about any driver that takes the time to notch that first win and has to endure the top-fives and the seconds and the thirds,” Wilson said.
“It’s not been easy for Daniel, he’s a competitor and he’s a nice guy, but make no mistake, he’s a competitor. What is remarkable, I think, is that he has had the strength and he hasn’t waivered. He hasn’t gotten down on himself or his team and he goes every week with the notion that he is going to win that race. Today he won it.”
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