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Suarez Captures Historic Cup Win at Sonoma

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, June 13 2022

Daniel Suarez smashes a victory piñata at Sonoma. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The congratulations began to pour in as soon as the No. 99 Chevrolet crossed the finish line at Sonoma’s road course. The celebrating is likely still continuing.

The reason: Daniel Suarez  on Sunday became the first Mexican driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race.

Suarez took the lead on a restart on Lap 61, pulled away from Chris Buescher on the final green flag stint and went on to make history.

The Trackhouse Racing driver’s margin of victory over Buescher was .3.849-seconds at the 1.99-mile Northern Californian.

It sent his pit crew and fans into a piñata-smashing frenzy.

Asked his thoughts as he neared victory, he said, “I was asking for my (taco-shaped) piñata. I was asking the team to bring the piñata with me. I wanted to break it.

And it sent his admirers racing to social media.

“I have so many thoughts in my head right now,” he said.

“So very happy we were able to make it work. They believed in me from day one.”

The 30-year-old Suárez, from Monterrey, Mexico, is now the 12th different winner of the 2022 season – and fourth first-time winner.

“I didn’t know what to do. It was special,” Suarez said. “Man, I’ve been working very hard for this moment, not just myself, but my entire team. I am very lucky to have people around me in the team, but outside the team. My family always supporting me, my beautiful girlfriend Julia that she work very hard in the last few months keeping me up and letting me know that I was doing the right things. We just need to have a clean day. That’s what we had today.”

Rounding out the top five Sunday were Front Row Motorsports driver Michael McDowell, who finished third, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, fourth, and rookie Austin Cindric from Team Penske.

Back at the victory celebration, the goodies inside the piñata were flying.

“A lot of chocolate,” Suarez said of its contents. “A lot of chocolate. Next time we have to organize that better. Next time I need a bat so can I break it. Actually we had one. I don’t know. It was missing somewhere.

“It was good. Just felt good. Very, very thankful to all my team for today.”

The victory came in Suarez’s 195 Cup start. during the preceding 194 starts, his average finish was 19.5.

Team owner Justin Marks was asked if he felt his driver was losing confidence as the disappointments piled up.

“Not for one second,” Marks said. “Not for one second ever. I have almost never met a more determined, focused, hard-working race car driver in my 20 years in this sport.
Every single morning he wakes up and says, I am going to be the best version of myself I can be today, I’m going to do all the work I can possibly do today to win this race this weekend.
I think Travis will say the same thing. It’s amazing how consistent he is, how that continues, that fire continues to burn so bright even after stringing numerous tough races in a row together. Tough month last year. He’s just very, very impressive in that regard.”

Buescher, who sat out last week’s race because of Covid protocols, was not smashing any pinatas after the race.

He had spent a large chunk of the final stint sitting on Suarez’s rear bumper.

“Yeah, I’m just disappointed in myself,” the Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing driver said. “Didn’t get the job done there. Apologize to these guys because they put an awesome Fifth/3rd Bank Mustang underneath me this weekend.

“Heck of a return. We had a lot of speed. Just struggled for a little bit of long-run speed, wearing rears out. Just didn’t get it done when it counted.

“It’s an awesome run. Awesome recovery from COTA, what we had there. Everybody back at RFK is doing a great job.

“Hurts to be that close, but congratulations to Suarez. We were trying, trying to get him. Ran out of steam there.”

 

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NASCAR Cup Series Race – 33rd Annual Toyota/Save Mart 350
Sonoma Raceway
Sonoma, California
Sunday, June 12, 2022

1. (8) Daniel Suárez, Chevrolet, 110.
2. (3) Chris Buescher, Ford, 110.
3. (4) Michael McDowell, Ford, 110.
4. (23) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 110.
5. (25) Austin Cindric #, Ford, 110.
6. (14) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 110.
7. (7) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 110.
8. (2) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 110.
9. (20) William Byron, Chevrolet, 110.
10. (22) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 110.
11. (13) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 110.
12. (18) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 110.
13. (15) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 110.
14. (21) Aric Almirola, Ford, 110.
15. (1) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 110.
16. (19) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 110.
17. (9) Joey Logano, Ford, 110.
18. (11) Kurt Busch, Toyota, 110.
19. (16) AJ Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, 110.
20. (17) Joey Hand, Ford, 110.
21. (6) Cole Custer, Ford, 110.
22. (33) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 110.
23. (34) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 110.
24. (24) Todd Gilliland #, Ford, 110.
25. (32) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 110.
26. (28) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 110.
27. (31) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 110.
28. (26) Harrison Burton #, Ford, 110.
29. (29) Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 110.
30. (12) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 110.
31. (10) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 110.
32. (36) Cody Ware, Ford, 109.
33. (35) Scott Heckert, Ford, 109.
34. (30) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 101.
35. (5) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 97.
36. (27) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, Engine, 9.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 78.008 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 48 Mins, 22 Secs. Margin of Victory: 3.849 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 4 for 14 laps.
Lead Changes: 6 among 6 drivers.
Lap Leaders: K. Larson 1-26;C. Elliott 27-52;J. Logano 53-56;C. Buescher 57-60;D. Suárez 61-81;B. Keselowski 82-84;D. Suárez 85-110.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Daniel Suárez 2 times for 47 laps; Chase Elliott 1 time for 26 laps; Kyle Larson 1 time for 26 laps; Chris Buescher 1 time for 4 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 4 laps; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 3 laps.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 5,22,18,31,10,21,77,45,47,51
Stage #2 Top Ten: 22,10,17,99,4,38,21,34,47,12

 

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, June 13 2022
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