Date: June 22, 2020
Event: GEICO 500 (Round 13 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (2.66-mile oval)
Format: 188 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/68 laps)
Start/Finish: 37th / 28th (Running, completed 190 of 191 laps)
Point Standing: 31st with 122 points
Note: Race extended three laps past its scheduled 188-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.
Race Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Tyler Reddick of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., of JTG Daugherty Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):
● Started 37th, finished 30th.
● Daniel Suárez and his CommScope Toyota were up to 33rd when the competition caution flag waved on lap 25. He reported the rear of his racecar was unstable. He pitted for four tires, fuel, left-front and right-side air pressure and right-rear wedge adjustments. He pitted a second time just before the race went back to green on lap 29 to pull a packer from the left front.
● The caution flag flew for rain on lap 55 with Suárez running 30th and the field filed down pit road on lap 57 to park under a red flag.
● Just earlier, Suárez had reported his CommScope Toyota was “a tick better but still needs work” in the areas of handling and speed.
● The race resumed after a 57-minute red flag period and the final three laps of the stage were concluded under caution.
● Suárez pitted during the stage break for wholesale changes, including left- and right-rear wedge adjustments and all packers pulled from both sides of the front.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):
● Started 23rd, finished 30th.
● Suárez restarted 23rd on lap 64 and held that relative position until the caution flag flew just past the lap-94 halfway point of the race for a single-car incident. He reported his CommScope Toyota was “fine, still lacking grip, but now I can drive it.” He pitted for four tires and fuel and resumed 25th when the race went back to green on lap 99.
● The caution flag flew for debris on lap 114, just six laps short of the stage break. Suárez pitted for four tires and fuel and the team expected to bring him back down pit road during the stage break to top off the tank.
● Suárez drove conservatively after restarting 28th on lap 118 and crossed the line 30th at the end of the stage.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-191):
● Started 25th, finished 28th.
● The green flag flew on lap 125, and Suárez was 25th when the caution flag flew on lap133. He stayed on track and restarted fifth when the race went back to green on lap 139.
● The caution flag flew again on lap 141 for a two-car incident with Suárez running eighth. He pitted for four tires and fuel, then topped off the tank as the field was coming to the lap-146 green flag and resumed 24th.
● Three laps from the scheduled finish, the caution flag flew for a single-car incident with Suárez running 27th and just having gone one lap down. He came down pit road on lap 187 for a splash of fuel for the green-white-checkered finish, and restarted 29th on lap 189.
● He avoided a pair of incidents on the final lap and crossed the finish line 28th, one lap down.
Daniel Suárez, driver of the No. 96 CommScope Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing:
“We stayed out of trouble and that’s always a good thing at Talladega. Our CommScope Toyota didn’t feel too good at the start of the race, mostly in the rear. But, by the middle of the race, we made it better and I was able to drive it. We had some good moments on pit stops and we had great track position at one point. We just need to keep working hard to find the speed we need, especially on the superspeedways. We’ll go back home and keep trying to make it better for next weekend. Baby steps.”
● Ryan Blaney won the GEICO 500 to score his fourth career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his second at Talladega. His margin of victory over second-place Ricky Stenhouse Jr., was .007 of a second.
● There were eight caution periods for a total of 33 laps.
● Twenty-four of the 40 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
● Kevin Harvick remains the championship leader after Talladega with a 23-point advantage over second-place Joey Logano.
Next up in the NASCAR Cup Series for Suárez and the Gaunt Brothers Racing team is a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader June 27 and 28 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The first race starts at 3:30 p.m. EDT Saturday with live coverage provided by FOX. The second race begins at 4 p.m. EDT Sunday with live coverage provided by FS1. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will broadcast both races.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDECK!