Twenty points-paying NASCAR Cup Series races ago, Daniel Suárez and his No. 96 It’s Good To Be Genuine Toyota Parts & Service Camry for the single-car Gaunt Brothers Racing (GBR) team scored one of their best finishes of the season in the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Saturday night, the 28-year-old native of Monterrey, Mexico and his Toyota of the same name return to “The Last Great Colosseum” looking to better that season-best finish of 18th on May 31 – which he and the team replicated 10 races later at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City – during the always highly anticipated Bass Pro Shops Night Race.
Relegated to the 37th starting position on that Sunday afternoon in May as the best of the Cup Series’ non-chartered teams, which had been the case 14 times this season before grid positions became performance-based six races before the end of the regular season, Suárez overcame an early drive-through penalty and numerous multicar incidents on track to bring his No. 96 Toyota home 18th and on the lead lap. It was the first of three top-20 finishes and third of eight top-25s for the 11th-year team, which took on the full Cup Series schedule for the first time since joining NASCAR’s top ranks as a part-time team in 2017.
The team’s calculated but determined building project toward competitiveness week in and week out with the series’ much larger, longstanding organizations continues with what is expected to be another eventful night of racing on the high-banked, half-mile concrete Bristol oval. The third and final Round of 16 event in this year’s Cup Series playoffs promises plenty of fireworks with 13 playoff drivers expected to fight tooth-and-nail for the nine remaining transfer spots into the Round of 12.
Like they did on that Sunday afternoon in May, Suárez and the No. 96 It’s Good To Be Genuine Toyota Parts & Service Camry team look to steer clear of Saturday night’s expected mayhem, and in the process bring home their top finish of the season.
Daniel Suárez: Driver of the No. 96 It’s Good To Be Genuine Toyota Parts & Service Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing:
Bristol has been one of your best tracks, results-wise, since you started racing there in the K&N East Series back in 2012. How do you like racing there?
“I like Bristol a lot. It’s a fun place to race – a lot of fun. When the stands are filled with fans, it’s one of the most exciting tracks we go to. It was strange to race there with no fans in our May race, but we were able to have some fans at the All-Star Race, which made it a little more fun. Bristol is especially fun when you have a fast racecar. We’ve been working hard to show up with a setup on our It’s Good To Be Genuine Toyota that is as good as possible and will make it fun for us on Saturday night.”
You scored the team’s best finish of 18th in that May Bristol race, successfully steering clear of numerous incidents and coming back from a drive-through penalty. How was that race for you?
“It was an eventful race, for sure. We had a lot of stuff going on. There was some miscommunication in the beginning and we had to do a pass-through, and a pass-through at Bristol is tough to come back from. We went two laps down and it was a struggle from there. But the team never gave up. We worked very hard and we were able to recover and fight back to get our first top-20 (of the season) for the team. The It’s Good To Be Genuine Toyota had decent speed but not quite enough. We’ve had to work hard to keep getting better and hopefully we’ll be stronger this weekend.”
No. 96 It’s Good To Be Genuine Toyota Parts & Service Camry Team Report
Race 29 – Bass Pro Shops Night Race – Bristol
Car No. 96: It’s Good To Be Genuine Toyota Parts & Service Camry
PR Contact: Laz Denes with True Speed Communication (Laz.Denes@TrueSpeedCommunication.com)
Driver: Daniel Suárez
Hometown: Monterrey, Mexico
Crew Chief: Dave Winston
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Technical Director: Nick Ollila
Hometown: Warren, Michigan
Car Chief: Mark Hillman
Hometown: Lockport, New York
Engine Specialist: Kirk Butterfield
Hometown: Carrollton, Ohio
Engine Builder: Toyota Racing Development
Headquarters: Costa Mesa, California
Spotter: Steve Barkdoll
Hometown: Garrison, Iowa
Gas Man: Cory White
Hometown: Vinson, Iowa
Front Tire Changer: Mike Mead
Hometown: Sherrills Ford, North Carolina
Rear Tire Changer: Brandon Traino
Hometown: Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Tire Carrier: Mason Harris
Hometown: Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia
Jackman: Bailey Walker
Hometown: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Windshield: Mark Hillman
Hometown: Lockport, New York
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!