Daniel Suarez scores breakthrough victory at Sonoma

By Holly Cain-NASCAR Wire Service
Posted 8:29PM on Sunday 12th June 2022 ( 2 months ago )

“Win Numero Uno.” Those were the words on the flag Mexican driver Daniel Suárez held out the window of his No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet as he did a celebratory burnout on the frontstretch of Sonoma Raceway Sunday after scoring his first ever NASCAR Cup Series victory.

Suárez pulled away from runner-up Chris Buescher in the closing laps to take the win by a 3.849-second margin on the 1.99-mile northern Californian road course.

It marks the third victory of the season for the second-year Trackhouse Racing team, whose members rushed over the pit road wall to embrace their driver and celebrate the historic achievement.

With the win, in his 195th NASCAR Cup Series start, Suárez becomes the fifth different driver not born in the United States to win in the NASCAR Cup Series, joining Marcos Ambrose (Australia), Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia), Earl Ross (Canada) and Mario Andretti (Italy).

And he did so convincingly. He led a race best 47 of the 110 laps and ultimately took one of the largest margins of victory on the season.

Suárez, the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion, screamed with joy on his team radio on the cool-down lap and after exiting his car, smashed a pinata.

Congratulations soon came in from across the racing world on social media – including former seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson – all before Suárez had even hoisted his trophy.

“I have so many thoughts in my head right now,” an emotional Suárez said, thanking his team owner Justin Marks, his family, and “all the people who helped me get to this point.”

“So very happy we were able to make it work,” Suárez added, saying of his team, “They believed in me from day one.”

He then offered a message of thanks in Spanish to the large crowd of his “Amigos” – the name of his fan club cheering trackside – and ended it in English by promising, “this is one of many.”

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

The top-four finishing drivers Sunday were all looking for their first win of the season. Michael McDowell finished third, followed by Kevin Harvick in fourth. Austin Cindric was fifth.

Ryan Blaney. Suárez’s Trackhouse Racing teammate Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott, William Byron, and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top 10..

For much of the early-going, it looked like Elliott and defending race winner Kyle Larson might well decide the win. But both had to overcome uncharacteristic pit stop miscues that allowed Suárez to essentially dominate the closing laps.

Elliot, who led 26 laps, pitted outside his box and had to serve a penalty that put him 34th – last in the field among those still running. His rally to an eighth-place finish was impressive considering the adventurous day.

Larson, the polesitter who also led 26 laps and won Stage 1, had a right front wheel come off his Chevrolet heading into turn 2 right after a pit stop. His team now faces a mandatory penalty for that infraction that includes a four-race suspension for the team’s crew chief, Cliff Daniels, and both the tire changer and jackman. The defending series champion finished 15th.

On an upside, however, the combined 52 laps led by Elliott and Larson topped the 100,000 all-time miles led mark for Hendrick Motorsports – most in NASCAR history.

With his eighth-place finish, Elliott still holds a 16-point advantage on Chastain in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings.

The NASCAR Cup Series has its only “off week” of the season next week but will return to competition on June 26 at Nashville Superspeedway.

NASCAR Cup Series
Sonoma Raceway – Sonoma, CA
Toyota/Save Mart 350 – 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) A.J. 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

Playoff Standings: 1. Ross Chastain – 520 (2 Wins); 2. Joey Logano – 506 (2 Wins); 3. William Byron – 466 (2 Wins); 4. Denny Hamlin – 325 (2 Wins); 5. Chase Elliott – 536 (1 Win); 6. Kyle Busch – 513 (1 Win); 7. Kyle Larson – 476 (1 Win); 8. Alex Bowman – 460 (1 Win); 9. Chase Briscoe – 385 (1 Win); 10. Daniel Suarez – 366 (1 Win); 11. Austin Cindric – 362 (1 Win); 12. Kurt Busch – 355 (1 Win); 13. Ryan Blaney – 511; 14. Martin Truex, Jr. – 481; 15. Christopher Bell – 444; 16. Aric Almirola – 423.

Daniel Suarez celebrates with a Mexican flag after scoring his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Daniel Suarez crosses the finish line to win Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway. Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

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