Suarez Is Beaming With Confidence This Memorial Weekend

Daniel Suarez

Firsts.

They can be exhilarating and thrilling, as well as daunting and intimidating. They can require patience and, more often than not, once achieved, they are incredibly gratifying. Trying to notch that first, however, can be vexing.

 

NASCAR driver Daniel Suarez is in the midst of his sophomore season competing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. With only 48 career Cup Series starts, a litany of firsts awaits the 26-year old driver. After his runner-up performance in last weekend’s Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Suarez could be on the verge of scratching off a pretty significant first and it could happen as soon as this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte.

 

Driving the No. 19 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), Suarez is set to make just his third Cup Series start at Charlotte when he takes the green flag Sunday. His two previous Charlotte starts took place during his rookie campaign, resulting in an 11th-place finish in the 2017 Coca-Cola 600 and a sixth-place effort in the fall. Suarez intends to make a little noise this weekend and could be poised to do so based on his performance during last Saturday night’s Monster Energy Open and All-Star non-points races.

 

Suarez finished first in Stage 2 of the Open to earn a starting spot in the main event – the annual All-Star Race. While he started from deep in the field, Suarez not only wasted no time in making his way to the front, he also dug in and battled for the lead as the second segment came to a close. He went on to maintain a presence among the top-five for the rest of the race and battled eventual winner Kevin Harvick for the top spot before settling for the second-place finish.

 

And now he’s ready for more and aims to add his name to the impressive list of current and former drivers who picked up their first career NASCAR Cup Series wins while racing at Charlotte. Ten drivers in all scored their first series win at the 1.5-mile oval, featuring names like Jeff Gordon, David Pearson, Matt Kenseth and Bobby Labonte – the latter also doing so while racing the iconic green and white colors of Interstate Batteries for JGR.

 

As the founding partner and “Official Battery of Joe Gibbs Racing,” Interstate Batteries has been powering the team for more than 25 years. Since 1992, JGR’s first full season in NASCAR, Interstate Batteries has played an integral role in the organization’s development from start-up race team to championship powerhouse.

 

While this will mark the first time Suarez, the native of Monterrey, Mexico, has raced the “Outrageously Dependable” brand in a Cup Series race, he has competed with the Interstate Batteries logo on multiple occasions in Xfinity competition. And when it comes to racing in the Xfinity series, Suarez has finished no worse than 12th place in the five series races in which he’s competed at Charlotte. Two top-fives, four top-10 finishes, one pole and 115 laps led highlight his Xfinity record at Charlotte.

 

The opportunity to score that first career win provides a healthy dose of motivation for Suarez and company, but a win this weekend would be even more impactful given the significance of Memorial Day weekend and the recognition that will be bestowed upon fallen members of the military. As part of NASCAR Salutes – the industry’s collective expression of respect and gratitude for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, past and present – the No. 19 Interstate Batteries Toyota will bear the name of Corporal Cody A. Putman. Born on Aug. 31, 1981 and raised in Lafayette, Indiana, Putman died April 12, 2007 while serving in Baghdad, Iraq. The 25-year-old, his fellow soldiers on patrol and two Iraqi interpreters lost their lives when they encountered an improvised explosive device.

 

Suarez will definitely be scratching one first off the list this weekend when he takes the green flag in the Interstate Batteries paint scheme in Cup Series competition. A fast race car, solid game plan and a little bit of luck could provide the catalyst he needs to knock off another first by scoring a trip to victory lane in NASCAR’s longest race of the year.

 

DANIEL SUAREZ, Driver of the No. 19 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 
How much of a confidence boost does your performance in the All-Star Race give you for this weekend?

“Definitely a lot of confidence for this weekend and the rest of the season. The team has been doing a great job in the last month and a half, two months, being competitive and racing up front. It’s been a lot of fun, obviously, racing in the top-five and top-10 more often. I feel like we are on the right track. We are in the right line obviously to keep moving forward. But we have to keep working to try to get a little bit better. I feel like we are good, but we are not great, yet. Hopefully, we can get there soon.”

 

What did you learn during the All-Star Race that may help you for this weekend’s Coke 600?

“Well, obviously it’s a very different car but there are some things we were able to learn about the track and the changes we may see on Sunday. The racetrack, it changes a lot. The 600 starts in the day and ends in the dark, so we were able to see both those types of conditions by being in the Open and then the All-Star Race. The biggest thing we learned is how quickly the top lane came in. That happened faster and quicker than I was expecting. So those are some things we will use when it comes to this weekend’s race.”

 

How challenging is the Coca-Cola 600?

“The Coca-Cola 600 is a very challenging race because it takes so much effort mentally and physically. Obviously, it is our longest race, so you have to prepare your body. The mental part, staying focused all night and communicating what’s going on with the team is very important. Starting in the day and ending at night, the car is going to be much different, so I have to provide Scott (Graves) and my engineers with all the info to keep up with the track. We did a pretty good job with that last year and kept making progress throughout the night. We want to be better this year and get ourselves into the top-10 and stay there to make sure we get stage points and put ourselves in position for a good finish.”

 

How special is it to be able to race the Interstate Batteries colors in the Cup Series for the first time?

“Interstate Batteries is a great sponsor for both myself and the whole organization. They have been a part of Joe Gibbs Racing since day one and they are so very important to the team and where we are today. For me to be a small part of the Interstate Batteries racing program is a big deal. It would be great to be able to take them to victory lane this weekend.”

Meet the No. 19 Interstate Batteries/Joe Gibbs Racing Team
Car No.: 18 – Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry

 

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

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

Road Crew Members:

Driver: Daniel Suarez

 

Crew Chief: Scott Graves

 

Car Chief: Jason Shapiro

 

Spotter: Chris Osborne

 

Engineer: Levi Porter

 

Engineer: JT Adkins

 

Shock Specialist: Ron Denton

 

Tire Specialist: Jamie Turski

 

Front End Mechanic: David Rudy

 

Underneath Mechanic: Ryan Martin

 

Interior Mechanic: Zack Miller

 

Engine Tuner: James Dudley

 

Truck Driver: Kyle Bazzell

 

Truck Driver: Ken Pitcher

Pit Crew Members: 

 

Front Tire Changer: Clay Robinson

 

Rear Tire Changer: Steven Tautges

 

Jack Man: Trey Burklin

 

Tire Carrier: Kevin Harris

 

Gas Man: Kenneth Purcell

Daniel Suarez at Charlotte Motor Speedway:
● Suarez will make his 49th career NASCAR Cup Series start in Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. In 48 career starts, Suarez has two top-five finishes and 16 top-10s.

● Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 will be Suarez’s third start at Charlotte. His best finish there is sixth, earned during the fall race in 2017. He’s completed all of the 737 laps run in those two races for a perfect lap-completion rate.

● Through the first 12 NASCAR Cup Series races in 2018, Suarez has scored one top-five and four top-10s. He is 21st in the driver standings.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.