The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Richmond (Va.) Raceway this weekend for the ninth race of the season. Daniel Suárez will pilot the red-and-black No. 41 Haas Automation Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in this weekend’s event at the track located approximately two hours south of our nation’s capital, Washington D.C.
The Cup Series goes to its second consecutive short track this weekend at Richmond. Suárez survived last weekend’s event on the Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway half-mile oval after overcoming three pit-road penalties, which put him one lap down. The 27-year-old battled his way back to the lead lap and earned an eighth-place finish after running as high as third. Bristol’s result has allowed Suárez to put together a trio of top-10 finishes this season.
“I’m kind of glad these mistakes are happening now because we know what we have to fix and clean up to get better,” Suárez said. “We definitely have good speed and were a top-five car and, when we weren’t very good, we were a top-10 car. So we have really good cars, we just need to clean up some of the details.”
At Richmond, the Mexico native has four career Cup Series starts with two top-10 finishes. Overall, Suárez has an average starting position of 22.8 there and an average finishing position of 11.5, and has completed 99.9 percent of all possible laps. While the track has completed a multi-million-dollar facility makeover, including a renovated infield, the .75-mile oval remains one of the most action-packed venues each season.
“I feel like Richmond is a good track for me and it’s good for Stewart-Haas Racing,” Suárez said. “They’re always good there, so I hope we go there to have some fun and have a shot at the win. Then we can enjoy the off weekend before we return for the next stretch of the season.”
Suárez is knocking on the door of his first Cup Series win. Curtis Turner in 1949 was the last driver to earn his first win while wheeling a car adorned with the No. 41. This weekend also offers an added sense of optimism in the SHR camp as, last year, an SHR driver won the race before each of the three off weekends. After this weekend’s action at Richmond, Suárez will head back home to his native country of Mexico to enjoy some time off before the Cup Series returns April 28 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
The solid finish at Bristol moved the Haas driver up to 12th in the point standings to round out the four-car SHR contingent. The top 16 drivers after the 26 regular-season races will earn a spot in the NASCAR playoffs.
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. This weekend marks the sixth time Suárez has piloted the Haas Automation scheme.
In the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Richmond, Suárez has six starts with one top-five finish and three top-10s. He’s amassed an average starting position of 8.3 and an average finishing position of 11.7. Additionally, Suárez has four Richmond starts from 2011 to 2014 in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with a best finish of 20th in 2011.
Ford has captured three victories in the first eight races this season. The new Cup Series Mustang also has four pole awards, two of those by Suárez’s SHR teammates Aric Almirola and Kevin Harvick. SHR has one win as an organization at Richmond with former SHR driver Kurt Busch capturing the victory in April 2015.
DANIEL SUÁREZ, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
SHR is a special culture and you’ve gained a lot of confidence. Why?
“I just feel like I have great people behind me. Everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Performance and everyone on the No. 41 team. We all get along so well and we have the same goals. We have a lot of confidence in each other and I feel like our communication and chemistry is still very young, but we are starting to show what we can do in the near future. I feel like we are making a lot of progress. At the beginning of the year we set goals and I feel like we are getting to those goals quicker than expected, but we can’t sit back and relax. We have to keep pushing forward and working together.”
It seems like the chemistry between you and Billy Scott has really come together quickly? Why do you think that is?
“Something I like about Billy is that he’s really straightforward. What he thinks, he says, and I’m the same way. We can laugh and have a good time, but we are able to be very clear with each other. He’s also a racer and he’s very hands-on. His kids race and he’s very hands-on with them. We like a lot of the same things. I like to build cars and work on them, and he likes to do the same stuff. We have similar personalities and he’s very aggressive. I have a feeling that we will have a good, long relationship together.”
If there is one driver at SHR who is your brother from another mother, who would it be?
“I would say it’s Clint (Bowyer) because he’s always funny. You never know what is going to come out of his mouth. He has a personality and I don’t think I’m quite to his level with my personality because he takes it to another level, but I feel like I’m closer to Clint. I have lot of things similar to Clint. He’s a great guy and we make fun of each other a lot.”