Daniel Suárez and the No. 41 ARRIS Ford team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will compete at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in Saturday night’s Monster Energy Open with their eyes focused firmly on advancing to that night’s featured Monster Energy All-Star Race that immediately follows. Suárez will drive the No. 41 ARRIS machine for the second time this season, having previously competed with the scheme in February at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The Open is a non-points-paying exhibition event whose drivers can race their way into the select field of the All-Star Race by winning one of its three segments – 20 laps, 20 laps and 10 laps, respectively – or by winning the NASCAR Fan Vote via NASCAR.com. The 15 drivers already locked into the All-Star Race by virtue of a race win in 2018 or 2019, or by being a former All-Star Race winner or Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, will be joined by the four who advance from the Open and will be vying for the $1 million grand prize.
Suárez will attempt to race his way into the non-points All-Star Race for the third consecutive year. In 2017, he finished first in the Open to advance, then was eliminated with 10 laps to go in the All-Star Race. Last year, the 27-year-old advanced to the All-Star Race by winning Stage 2 of the Open, then took the runner-up spot in the All-Star Race by a mere .325 of a second to SHR teammate Kevin Harvick, who dominated the event.
“I wasn’t even thinking about the money,” Suárez said in reference to his second-place finish in last year’s All-Star Race. “Money comes and goes, but the trophies don’t. I’m hoping I can get a trophy for Gene (Haas) and Tony (Stewart) this weekend because it means so much to them. These guys and most racers don’t race for the money, they do it for the trophies. The All-Star Race is one of the few times in the season when we don’t have to think about points and different things like that. All we really care about is crossing the start-finish line first.”
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.
Even though Suárez is two-for-two in racing his way into the All-Star Race, this year presents a new challenge with a different rules package for the Cup Series cars. Like last year, NASCAR has implemented a new rules package specifically for this weekend’s race. One of the rule changes involves a radiator duct configured to exit through the hood as opposed to the current design which exits into the engine compartment.
Suárez’s SHR teammates Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola have secured a position in Saturday night’s main event. Additionally, team co-owner Tony Stewart most recently won the event in May 2009.
DANIEL SUÁREZ, Driver of the No. 41 ARRIS Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Do you have a favorite time of day during which you like driving?
“I like night racing a lot. Under the lights, the cars look really cool and it’s a lot of fun. The cars looks different and it’s a different feeling as a driver at night. It’s cool to see all of the signs lit up on pit road.”
How much do you notice what the fans are doing in the grandstands when you’re driving by?
“I do notice different things when we are on the slow laps. It’s hard to say, ‘Hey, that’s my mom,’ because we can’t see that kind of detail, but we can definitely see people motioning and when there are large groups doing something. Once we are up to speed, you aren’t looking to the right at the fans in the stands. You’re looking ahead and in your mirror and focused on your communication. Once you’re up to speed, you’re thinking about everything competition related – tires, fuel, strategy and those kinds of things.”