Daniel Suarez Makes His Second Run At Daytona

Daniel Suarez

The 101st has no history, but it has a rendezvous with destiny.”


That was the order as read aloud by Maj. Gen. William C. Lee. And when the pathfinders of the United States Army’s 101st Airborne Division touched down along the beaches of Normandy, France in the wee morning hours of June 6, 1944, it launched a mission of notoriety that provided the foundation for a tradition of providing the country with unmatched expeditionary air assault capabilities. The 101st is considered the most potent and tactically mobile of the U.S. Army’s divisions.

It’s that indomitable spirit to which Interstate Batteries will pay tribute this weekend at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, where driver Daniel Suarez and his racecar will sport an honorary design for Friday night’s Daytona Firecracker 250 presented by Coca-Cola NASCAR XFINITY Series race.

For just the second time in 2017, Suarez will pilot the colors of Joe Gibbs Racing’s founding partner when he straps into the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota.

Interstate Batteries has been powering the championship-winning organization for more than 25 years and is the “Official Battery of Joe Gibbs Racing.” The iconic brand is in the midst of celebrating its 65th anniversary and has featured special branding to reflect the milestone during its 2017 campaign. This weekend at Daytona, however, Interstate Batteries will pay tribute to Fort Campbell, which is located astride the border between Hopkinsville, Kentucky and Clarksville, Tennessee, home to the 101st Airborne Division that is in the midst of celebrating 75 years of service.

As part of the homage to the famed “Screaming Eagles,” members of the 101st Airborne Division will attend the Firecracker 250 as guests of Interstate Batteries – two of which will appear during prerace ceremonies in full military dress with one reflecting the uniform of the 1942 era and the other in fatigues representative of the modern-day uniform. It’s all part of the NASCAR salute to the military taking place during the Fourth of July weekend.

For his part, Suarez will attempt to return the Interstate Batteries-branded XFINITY Series car to victory lane. Dating back to last spring at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, Suarez has made three starts in XFINITY Series competition when the Dallas-based company has been on the hood of his Toyota. He’s gone one for three in those races – scoring a win in dominating fashion last fall at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.

When it comes to XFINITY Series competition at Daytona, Suarez is looking for a little luck to go his way. He’s made five XFINITY starts at the World Center of Racing, three of which ended prematurely as the result of accidents. The reigning XFINITY Series champ earned his best finish at Daytona during the series’ season-opening race in 2016, when he finished in eighth place after starting second. Prior to 2016, Suarez earned the top starting spot in just his second outing at the 2.5-mile superspeedway in July 2015.

While Suarez is now a regular in the NASCAR Cup Series, he’s been doing double duty, also competing in a majority of the 2017 XFINITY Series races. In nine XFINITY Series starts this year, Suarez has scored four top-five finishes and five top-10s.

Much like it has been for the 101st Airborne Division for 75 years, the goal this weekend is victory. Suarez and Interstate Batteries hope to combine as a means for obtaining that goal.


DANIEL SUAREZ, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 
What challenges does Daytona present?

“Daytona can be fun. The thing I’ve learned is getting a chance to win, which means being there at the end. I haven’t had much luck there. It is a lot different than anywhere we race and learning the draft was challenging for me the first time. The more I do this kind of racing, the more I enjoy it. The Joe Gibbs Racing cars always have a lot of speed at Daytona. We have started from the front row a couple of times in the XFINITY car. Hopefully, we can just get a little bit of luck to go our way and we can get in a good position to race for a win at the end.”


How does it feel to have JGR’s founding partner in Interstate Batteries back on the car this weekend?

“They have been a great partner to JGR for many years and they’re very important to Coach Gibbs, so I feel honored to be able to be a part of that company. This is a big race for Interstate Batteries. They have been very supportive of me and this team. We’ve only run a few races with Interstate Batteries on the car but we seem to always run well when they are on board with us. They were with us when we won the pole at California last year and when we won at Dover. It would be a great weekend to get a win for Interstate Batteries and everyone at JGR.”

Meet the No. 18 Interstate Batteries/Joe Gibbs Racing Team
Car No.: 18 – Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry


At-Track PR Contact: Penny Copen Fender with True Speed Communication

704.875.3388 ext. 810 or Penny.Copen@TrueSpeedCommunication.com

Road Crew Members:

Driver: Daniel Suarez


Crew Chief: Eric Phillips


Car Chief: Chris Meyers


Engine Builder: Mark Cronquist


Engine Tuner: Roger Purcell


Spotter: Chris Osborne


Shock Specialist: Dustin Zacharyasz


Tire Specialist: John Lanham


Engineer: Chris Whitenight


Mechanic: John Egbert Jr.


Mechanic: Tyler Paxton


Truck Driver: Steve Fielder

Pit Crew Members:

Front Tire Changer: Josh Leslie


Front Tire Carrier: Brad Donaghy


Gas Man: Kenneth Purcell


Rear Tire Changer: Kip Wolfmeir


Rear Tire Carrier: Matt VerMeer


Jack Man: Trey Burklin



Daniel Suarez Highlights at Daytona International Speedway:
  • Friday’s Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway will be his sixth start in NASCAR XFINITY Series competition at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. 
  • In five previous XFINITY Series starts at Daytona, Suarez’s best finish is the eighth-place result he eanred during the series season-opening event in 2016. 
  • While he is still searching for his first win at Daytona, Suarez earned the top starting spot for the track’s July race in 2015. 


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