The 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads west to wrap up its three-race West Coast swing. Daniel Suárez will pilot the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. It marks the third time Suárez will pilot the black-and-red Haas Automation livery this season.
Fontana is the home track for Haas Automation, which is located approximately two hours west in Oxnard, California. 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 and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.
Last weekend at ISM Raceway near Phoenix, Suárez had a tough qualifying session which relegated him to a 28th-place starting spot. As the Mustang driver was working his way forward in the 500-kilometer race, an electrical issue plagued the No. 41 team, causing Suárez to lose multiple laps that he was never able to regain. Even though the record book shows a 23rd-place finish, the No. 41 team continued on its path to gel and provides a solid racecar each week.
Suárez has two Cup Series starts at the 2-mile Fontana oval. In March 2018, he earned both his best starting position of 10th and his best finish of seventh. The 2016 Xfinity Series champion also has two starts in that series at Fontana. In March 2016, he earned the pole position and went on to lead four laps and finish fourth.
Fontana is the first 2-mile track on the schedule this season with the new rules package implemented. “Restarts were pretty crazy the last two weekends at Atlanta and Phoenix,” Suárez said. “They’ve always been a little crazy at Auto Club, so I can only imagine how they’re going to be this weekend with the new rules package. The fans are going to enjoy it, that’s for sure.”
Suárez climbed behind the wheel of the No. 41 Ford Mustang for the first time this season in a Goodyear tire test at Fontana January 9 and 10. It was also the first time Suárez had a chance to try out the 2019 rules package.
Before hitting the track this weekend at Fontana, Suárez will tour Haas Automation’s headquarters Thursday with SHR team co-owner Haas. Suárez who grew up working on cars in his father’s restoration shop in his native Mexico has an affinity for CNC machines. “I went and toured the Roush Yates engine shop and spent hours in there just looking at everything and all of the Haas CNC machines they use to build everything for engines,” Suárez said. “I was like a kid in a candy store, so I’m really excited to go to Oxnard and see where Gene builds the machines.”
This weekend, fans will have the opportunity to view Suárez’s perspective from inside the Haas Automation Mustang courtesy of Coca-Cola, which is sponsoring his in-car camera for this weekend’s event. Additionally, there will be 500 of “Daniel’s Amigos” in the grandstands Sunday, supporting the Monterrey, Mexico driver. “Daniel’s Amigos” is a fan-focused movement to engage and celebrate with Latino NASCAR fans.
Daniel Suárez, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You’re four races in to the season. How do you feel things are going with your team?
“The expectations are high and we’ve had fast racecars, but for one reason or another we’ve had things happen. Qualifying and track position are more important than ever. We’ve been putting so much time into our qualifying plans because it is so important to get a really good starting spot and a good pit stall. We’ve had a lot of speed in the cars, but that hasn’t translated over to results. We had the electrical thing at Phoenix and, before that, we had some pit-road issues, so we have a couple of things to clean up. We’ve had top-10 cars the entire year, but we haven’t had those results every week.”
What do you enjoy about going to Fontana?
“Fontana is a fun race for me. We don’t get to race in Mexico, so Fontana is one of the closer tracks to home for me. A lot of Hispanic fans come to the race and it feels really good to see a lot of Mexican flags in the stands. I know when I see them exactly who they are supporting.”
Out of all the racetracks out West, which one is your favorite?
“I like Phoenix a lot, but Fontana is my favorite. It is just so different from everywhere else we go. You get into the corner and it’s a super-wide race track compared to the other tracks we go to. We go into the corners on restarts four-, five-, or six-wide. It’s just incredible.”