Date: Aug. 29, 2020
Event: Coke Zero Sugar 400 (Round 26 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Format: 160 laps, broken into three stages (50 laps/50 laps/60 laps)
Start/Finish: 30th / 26th (Accident, completed 159 of 164 laps)
Point Standing: 31st with 275 points
Note: Race extended four laps past its scheduled 160-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.
Race Winner: William Byron of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-50):
● Started 30th, finished 17th.
● Suárez and his CommScope Toyota made steady forward progress from the drop of the green flag and was running eighth amid a pack of fellow Toyota competitors when the competition caution appeared on lap 20. He reported no problems with his CommScope Toyota Camry and stopped for fuel only before restarting 12th when the race went back to green on lap 24.
● The stage stayed green until the caution flag flew to end it on lap 50 and Suárez crossed the line 17th. He reported his CommScope Camry felt fine, that he was happy. He pitted during the break for tires and fuel.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 51-100):
● Started 23rd, finished 32nd.
● Suárez stopped a second time to top off his fuel tank along with a handful of other competitors just as the race was going back to green to start the stage on lap 55. He restarted 23rd.
● He raced his way into the lead by lap 72 and stayed there for 19 laps, giving him 20 laps led for the season. He gave up the lead to try and save fuel beginning on lap 90, then pitted from 23rd for right-side tires and a splash of fuel on lap 97.
● The caution flag waved to end the stage on lap 100 with Suárez crossing the line in 32nd. He pitted during the break for left-side tires and to top off the fuel tank.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 101-164):
● Started 24th, finished 26th.
● Suárez was in 13th place when he and his fellow Toyota competitors and a handful of others pitted under green for fuel only on lap 126.
● The first incident-related caution flag of the race flew on lap 143 with Suárez running 13th. He said his CommScope Toyota lacked grip since the fuel stop – was tight and then snapping loose. He pitted for four tires and fuel to stabilize the car for the final sprint to the finish and restarted 24th when the race went back to green on lap 147.
● The first multicar incident occurred on lap 152 with Suárez running 27th. He was able to get through the incident with just a slight dent in the grille, which the team felt would not be a concern the rest of the way. The race was red-flagged for 10 minutes while the incident was cleared and went back to green on lap 155 with Suárez restarting 18th.
● Another multicar incident occurred just four laps later and, this time, Suárez could not avoid the carnage. His CommScope Toyota sustained unrepairable damage to the right-front suspension and the car was retired.
Daniel Suárez, driver of the No. 96 CommScope Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing:
“We had a really good CommScope Toyota tonight. We were really looking forward to this race and it was a lot of fun while it lasted. I was able to drive to the front in the middle part of the race and led laps for a while before we needed to save fuel. We were able to get through the first wreck without any significant damage, but there was just no way to avoid the second one. It’s a shame because we had a really good racecar. I’m proud of everybody who was involved in getting us ready for this race. We ran up front, so that felt really good. I think we have some good momentum to take to the last 10 races.”
● The 19 green-flag laps led tonight were the first for Suárez since he led 25 last November at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, and they were the first in 63 starts for the No. 96 Gaunt Brothers Toyota since it joined the Cup Series ranks first as a part-time team in 2017. Suárez and his No. 96 Toyota, which took on the full Cup Series schedule for the first time in 2020, led one lap under caution in the May 20 race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
● Tonight’s result ended a streak of 24 consecutive races in which Suárez and his No. 96 CommScope Toyota were running at the finish.
● William Byron won the Coke Zero Sugar 400 to score his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was .119 of a second.
● There were six caution periods for a total of 21 laps.
● Only 20 of the 40 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
● Kevin Harvick won the regular-season driver championship by a 115-point margin over second-place Denny Hamlin.
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule for Suárez and Gaunt Brothers Racing is the Cook Out Southern 500 on Sunday, Sept. 6 at Darlington. The first race in the 10-race, 16-driver NASCAR playoffs starts at 6 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!