Daniel Suárez and the No. 41 Haas Automation team head to Dover (Del.) International Speedway this Sunday for the 11th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the season. Suárez will return to the traditional red-and-black Haas Automation livery for his fifth career Cup Series start at the high-banked, concrete mile oval.
Before heading to Dover this weekend, Suárez managed a 12th-place finish in last week’s event at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Early in the race, Suárez’s teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer were involved in an accident, but Suárez was able to avoid the accidents, some narrowly, to earn his second-best finish at the 2.66-mile superspeedway with a solid day in the Orange Vanilla Coca-Cola Mustang.
Dover is one of only two tracks on the Cup Series schedule where Suárez has earned top-10 finishes in each of his starts there – the other being Watkins Glen, where he has a pair of top-fives in two outings. In four starts at Dover, Suárez has one top-five finish and four top-10s with an average finishing position of 6.8. He has three top-10 starting spots there with an average starting position to 8.5.
In addition to his Cup Series starts at Dover, he has six Xfinity Series starts with one win in October 2016, two top-fives and five top-10s, along with 144 laps led. The Mexico native also has two Gander Outdoors Truck Series starts, both resulting in second-place finishes. Finally, he has two starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, one in 2013 when he finished sixth, and one in 2014, when he finished 22nd after an accident ended his day prematurely.
“Dover is probably my favorite track and it’s probably my best track, too,” Suárez said. “I’m not really sure why it’s so good for me, but it’s a lot of fun. With the new package, it should be crazy fast, so it’s going to be a lot of fun, I hope. I always have it marked on my list of tracks that I think we have a really good shot to win at. Kevin and Clint were both so good there last year and my crew chief Billy Scott and the 41 team were really good there last year, too.”
Going to Dover with SHR should bode well for Suárez’s success. Behind Aric Almirola, Bowyer and Harvick, SHR led 592 of the 804 laps raced there last year. Harvick captured the win and Bowyer the runner-up finish in the May race.
At tracks a mile in length or less this season, Suárez has accumulated top-10 finishes at each, with the exception of Phoenix, where he had a mechanical issue, and Richmond, where a pit-road speeding penalty led to an 18th-place finish.
This time last year, Suárez was 21st in the point standings, but he’s 12th with 266 points heading into this weekend’s event. All four SHR entries are in the top-12 in the championship, from where the top 16 drivers after the 26 regular-season races will earn a spot in the Cup Series playoffs.
Haas Automation, founded in 1983 by SHR co-owner Gene Haas, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are constructed in the company’s 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets. This weekend marks the seventh time Suárez has piloted the Haas Automation scheme.
Ford has 26 all-time Cup Series victories at Dover. The manufacturer has captured three victories so far this year and the solid start to the season has earned Ford five spots in the top-10 in points. SHR has three wins as an organization at the Delaware track with Harvick earning two and co-owner Tony Stewart one.
DANIEL SUÁREZ, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
How do you feel things have progressed in your first year at SHR?
“It’s going better than I expected, honestly. Everything has been really smooth and we have really good people and the results are coming, and I’m very happy with that. I feel like we are moving in the right direction and I have really great teammates. We are seeing a different team now than what we were seeing a month and a half ago, and I feel like a month and a half from now we’ll be even better. We have strong cars wherever we go now and it’s only getting better.”
You’re still looking for your first playoff appearance and, if you had your preference, would you like a win early in the season so you’re locked in and good to go? Or, if you’re running up front and you have the points to get in, you’re able to qualify for the playoffs that way?
“I would say to be competitive and run up front all the time. The win will come. I know that. We just have to be competitive and up front. I don’t want to get a lucky win and be lucky in the playoffs and then just put my arms down a little bit. I want to be competitive, up front and be racing hard, and if we can do that, the win will come.”