Daniel Suárez and the No. 41 Haas Automation Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) head to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race. It will be Suárez’s sixth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at the high-banked, concrete half-mile oval.
Suárez is coming off a solid fifth-place finish Sunday at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The weekend at the fast, 2-mile oval was not without its share of drama, however, as Suárez experienced a cut tire during Saturday’s final practice session that caused him to lose control and damage the No. 41 machine. But the Mexico native and his team rallied for a strong finish on race day, allowing him to gain valuable points in his quest to earn a spot in the 10-race Cup Series playoffs, which begin Sept. 15 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The 27-year-old earned an eighth-place finish at this year’s April race at Bristol, his highest Cup Series career finish at the short track, where he has an average starting position of 17.6 and an average finishing position of 14.0, along with five laps led. The Haas Automation driver has completed 99.9 percent of all possible laps at Bristol.
Suárez arrives at Bristol 17th in the Cup Series standings to round out the four-driver SHR contingent. If he captures a playoff position, it will be the first of his Cup Series career. Last year, all four SHR entries secured a playoff spot and at least one regular-season victory. SHR teammate Kevin Harvick has already secured his spot in the playoffs with wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July, and last weekend at Michigan.
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.
No. 41 team crew chief Billy Scott is the defending winner of this weekend’s event, capturing the win with former SHR driver Kurt Busch behind the wheel last August. The win marked Scott’s first win as Cup Series crew chief. The only major difference on the No. 41 roster this season is Suárez.
Suárez has six Bristol starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, with four top-five finishes and five top-10s, including two runner-up results in August 2017 and April 2015. The 2016 Xfinity Series champion has also led 42 laps at the “Last Great Colosseum” in that series and has never started outside the top-10. He has an average Xfinity Series starting position of 7.7 and an average finish of 8 at the Tennessee track. The Ford driver has two NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series starts at Bristol with 77 laps led, but both starts ended prematurely.
Fans will also have the opportunity to enjoy a sweet view from inside Suárez’s cockpit with an in-car camera provided by Coca-Cola for Saturday’s 500-lap event.
DANIEL SUÁREZ, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
We all know drivers want to win. How difficult is it to choose between getting the most points or risking it all for a win?
“That’s a fine line. For months, all I care about and want is a win. To break that barrier and to get my first win in the Cup Series would be awesome. But right now, we aren’t in a position to where we can take those risks. When you win races, you have to take chances and take advantage of opportunities. Sometimes, though, those opportunities can get you the win and other times you end up out of the race. If the possibility to win the race is in front of me, we are going to take it. But I have to be smart and put the importance of the points and the risk that we are going to take to make sure it’s worth it for us. We’ve had a lot of speed lately, we just can’t make mistakes.”
How much do drivers remember?
“My mom and sisters will tell you that I can’t remember anything. I don’t remember people or places very well, but when it comes to the racetrack, I remember everything. I can remember back to my very first race and who I got into it with. I remember who raced me hard, who raced me clean, who cut me a break. You have to know that the people you’re racing with have a memory bank, as well, and you never know when you might get those paybacks.”