The 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the second race of the season with Daniel Suárez piloting the No. 41 ARRIS Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). Atlanta marks the first time Suárez will pilot the black-and-orange ARRIS paint scheme this season.
While Suárez is new to SHR and the Ford camp, ARRIS is very familiar to the 27-year-old driver and his fans. ARRIS has been a longtime supporter of Suárez and continues its relationship with him this season at SHR. The Hampton, Georgia track is the home venue for Atlanta-based ARRIS.
ARRIS has been involved with NASCAR since 2014 and is responsible for the most comprehensive Wi-Fi deployment in NASCAR history at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The company recently announced the first CBRS Private LTE network deployment at the newly renovated ISM Raceway near Phoenix. ARRIS also powers the communication between NASCAR drivers and their teams through its SURFboard SB6183® modem and E600® Converged Edge Router (CER) with integration and support from its global services team.
Suárez is looking for a better ending to this weekend’s event at Atlanta than he had at the season-opening Daytona 500. With just 10 scheduled laps remaining in Sunday’s Great American Race, Suárez was caught up in a multivehicle accident that ended his bid prematurely. The Mexico native has two Cup Series starts at Atlanta with a best finish of 15th and a best starting position of fourth, both during last year’s event. In addition to his Cup Series starts at the mile-and-a-half track, he has two starts in the Xfinity Series with a best starting position of third and a best finish of seventh, both in 2016.
Suárez’s new team, SHR, was successful at Atlanta last year with teammate Kevin Harvick taking the checkered flag in dominant fashion by leading 181 of the 325-lap event. Harvick’s Atlanta win was just the start of an extremely successful season for the two-time championship-winning SHR team which accumulated 15 Cup Series wins.
NASCAR’s new rules package goes into effect for this weekend’s event at Atlanta. NASCAR has made rule changes for 2019 to bolster competition with enhanced aerodynamic and engine configurations. The different packages are tailored to the specific tracks on the Cup Series circuit, with a combination of a smaller tapered spacer to reduce engine horsepower to a target goal of 550 – from 750 – and aero ducts to foster tighter racing on a majority of speedways measuring longer than 1 mile.
“I think it will take a little bit of time for everyone to adapt to the new rules package,” Suárez said. “At the end of the day, though, it’s going to be like any other race. Whoever hits on something first and figures out how to go faster is going to be winning races sooner. I don’t want to waste too much time thinking about if the package is good or bad. What’s important is figuring out how to adapt to it and to go fast and win races.”
While the 2019 rules package is new for the Cup Series, it’s somewhat familiar to Suárez, who raced a similar package in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The Mustang driver went on to win three races and ultimately the Xfinity Series championship in 2016.
DANIEL SUÁREZ, Driver of the No. 41 ARRIS Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
How long before the elite teams figure out this package and break away from the pack? When do you think the elite teams get a little bit better than everybody else?
“I would say two to three months. The good teams will continue to be the good teams and the elite teams will continue to be the elite teams. I’m very lucky in that I feel like Stewart-Haas Racing is one of the best race teams out there. I’m very confident based on what I was able to do in the All-Star Race and what Stewart-Haas Racing was able to accomplish by winning the race that we’re going do great things together this year.”
You’re still looking for your first playoff appearance. If you had your preference, would you like a win early in the season so you know you’re locked in? Or, if you’re running up front, you’ll have the points to get in and it’s all good?
“Honestly, you can tell me, ‘Hey, do you prefer to get a win and be locked in the playoffs, or be competitive and run up front all of the time?’ I would say to be competitive and run up front all of the time. The win will come when you do that. I know that. I don’t want to get a lucky win and be in the playoffs and then not be able to perform well at the end of the season.”