On Sunday, Daniel Suarez made history by becoming the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race, holding off Chris Buescher to win at Sonoma Raceway.
Suarez, a 30-year-old Monterrey native, won for the first time in his Cup Series career, which began in 2017. In addition, he drove his Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet to the team’s third Cup Series victory of the season, co-owned by former driver Justin Marks and music artist Pitbull.
Suarez passed Buescher and claimed the lead early in the last stage on this steep road circuit in Northern California wine region, and he held on to the lead despite a pit stop and a caution with 23 laps to go. Buescher pushed him hard, but Suarez rolled to victory without making any major errors.
Suarez described the situation as “It’s crazy,” Suarez said. “I have so many thoughts in my head right now. It’s been a rough journey in the Cup Series, and these guys believed in me. I have a lot of people to thank in Mexico. My family, they never gave up on me. A lot of people did, but they didn’t. I’m just happy we were able to make it work .”
When it was ended, Suarez’s squad threw a huge party, even breaking out a taco-shaped piñata. Suarez requested the piñata for when he scored his first win and clinched a playoff berth, and he celebrated by punching a hole in it with his fist.
“They believed in me since Day One,” Suarez remarked of his colleagues. “[We’ve got] all the people, all the resources to make it happen.”
Suarez then spoke briefly to his fans in Spanish, stating, “This is the first one of many.”
Buescher’s second-place performance in his RFK Racing Ford was his best of the season. He came up just short of winning for the second time in his career.
“Hurts to be that close, but congratulations to Suarez,” Buescher said. “We were trying, trying to get him. Ran out of steam there.”
Suarez is the fifth foreign-born driver to win a Cup Series race, having won the Xfinity Series championship in 2016. He joins Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia, Marcos Ambrose of Australia, Earl Ross of Canada, and Mario Andretti of Italy.
In cloudy conditions, Michael McDowell finished a season-best third ahead of Kevin Harvick in Sonoma Raceway’s first Cup Series race since the coronavirus pandemic. Around 350 fans from Suarez’s Daniel’s Amigos programme, which permits kids from numerous NASCAR cities to attend races, were in attendance.
Austin Cindric finished fifth in the Cup Series’ final race before the one-week midseason break.
THE WORKS OF THE CHUTE
After using the longer Carousel configuration in the previous two editions in 2019 and 2021, Sonoma Raceway reverted the 1.99-mile Chute track layout for this race. The shorter course did not appear to result in more racing contact, as there was little action in the first two stages, which were won by Kyle Larson and Joey Logano.
NOT TO BE REPEATED
Larson, the defending champion and pole sitter, won the opening stage but then faded, eventually losing his right front tyre with 27 laps to go. Larson started on the pole for the fifth time in a row in the race in the Sacramento suburbs closest to his childhood home, but his choice not to pit in the first stage buried him in the field from there. He came in 15th place.
COMING UP NEXT
The season returns after the break on Sunday, June 26 at Nashville Superspeedway.