Daniel Suárez and the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) venture to the Bluegrass State for Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Kentucky 400 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. It’s the seventh 1.5-mile facility the Cup Series will have raced on this season.
The pressure is on after a wild race last weekend at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. That event, originally scheduled for Saturday night, was postponed until Sunday due to weather. After a multi-vehicle accident on lap 83, Suárez’s day ended prematurely with irreversible damage caused to his Haas Automation Mustang. The last-place result set Suárez back in his hunt for the championship.
The Mexico native has two Cup Series starts at Kentucky with a best finish of 15th. He’s earned a best starting spot of ninth there in NASCAR’s premier series, an average starting position of 10.0, an average finishing position of 16.5, and he’s completed 99.8 percent of all possible laps.
The 27-year-old has four NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the 1.5-mile oval. Suárez excelled at Kentucky in that series, in which he won the 2016 championship. He accumulated three Xfinity Series top-five finishes and three top-10s at Kentucky, which includes a runner-up result in September 2016. He also earned one pole award in September 2015 with a speed of 179.856 mph. The pole award was Suárez’s third during his first full-time Xfinity Series season. In the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series at Kentucky, Suárez has two starts and he earned a pole award in July 2016 and has led 77 laps.
In Suárez’s last 10 Cup Series starts at tracks 1.5-miles in length, he’s recorded one top-five, three top-10s and led 22 laps. The Ford driver has an average start of 16.3 and an average finish of 17.6 at intermediate tracks.
This weekend at Kentucky, Suárez will wear special skeleton printed gloves as part of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s “Driven to Give Gloves” initiative benefitting Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. After this weekend’s race, the gloves will be auctioned off vianascarfoundation.org/dalejr.
The Haas driver is currently 17th in the Cup Series standings, two spots behind teammate Clint Bowyer, to round out the four-driver SHR contingent. The top 16 drivers after the 26 regular-season races will earn a spot in the Cup Series playoffs. If Suárez captures a playoff position, it will be the first of his Cup Series career. Last year, all four SHR entries secured at least one regular-season win and a playoff spot.
SHR is looking for its first win in the organization’s history at Kentucky, the only venue on the Cup Series circuit where it remains winless since its inception in 2009. Ford has two all-time series wins at Kentucky.
DANIEL SUÁREZ, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
How did you get your start in racing?
“It’s a long story, but I started racing when I was 11, and it was kind of by mistake. I would work with my dad in his restoration shop and one of his customers had a son who was into racing. One weekend, they invited me to go with them to the go-kart track. And then they started inviting me more and eventually offered to let me drive the go-kart. I remember being so excited to get the chance to drive the go-kart and not just watch anymore. The guy thought I was really good, so he went and talked to my dad about it, and of course my dad wasn’t sure because it’s expensive. At the beginning, I was just racing for fun. I had no idea that you could actually race professionally and for a living. I remember my dad telling me when I was a little bit older that I didn’t have any responsibilities and should try doing it professionally. Eventually, that led to my move to the United States.”
You’re the only Hispanic in the Cup Series right now. How has your experience been with making new NASCAR fans?
“Things have changed so much in the last 10 to 15 years in NASCAR. I’ve been living here in the United States for almost eight years now and things have changed so much just while I’ve lived here. I have had so many experiences where Hispanic people, Mexicans here in the United States, Latinos, they come to me and tell me that they didn’t know anything about NASCAR but they saw me in an interview one day and now they’re a huge fan. That’s very cool to me. I’m very proud to be the guy who represents Hispanics and I try to do my best every single weekend. I’m glad I can give them someone to root for and bring their attention to NASCAR.”