By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
FORT WORTH, Texas — Daniel Suarez lined up fourth in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway, and on the initial start of the race he made a bold three wide move for the lead. Suarez would not get the lead, but the bold move cemented the fact that he was going to be a driver to deal with all day long.
But around the mid-way point of the event, Suarez — who is one of eight drivers still in Chase contention — looked to have a race that was going sour. He radioed to his team that he was experiencing a dip in voltage, which is never good. A pit stop for a battery change would have cost Suarez at least a lap — probably more.
However, Suarez immediately shut off every amenity for driver comfort, and he was able to make it to the end of the race without swapping to his emergency battery and more importantly without stopping to swap a battery.
“I was worried because we were a little bit before or after halfway and I knew we had at least 90 more laps to go. I know that I had a second battery, but you never know and you want to be able to go,” Suarez said. “We have a lot of time we could work on the tires and brakes and everything, but after that issue I wasn’t able to use anything, even my AC, I wasn’t able to use it. We’re lucky that it was cloudy and fresh, in a hot day it could have been more difficult. We made it.”
Suarez salvaged a solid fifth-place finish on what could have been a disastrous day. By surviving the day, Suarez leaves Texas with a comfortable position in the Xfinity Series Chase — the point lead.
“I think we are in a good spot,” Suarez explained. “I feel like there is no comfortable place in this format, but we are in a good spot. After doing what we have been able to do in the last month, month and a half, we do that and we will be fine and then everything will work out.”
Suarez holds a 17-point lead over Justin Allgaier, who sits fifth in the championship standings currently. According to the driver, he feels his team just has to keep doing what they’ve done over the last stretch of the year.
“I think my entire team has a lot of confidence right now. We are not in a comfortable position, I don’t think that word exists in the Chase. We will do everything we can – we are in a good spot and will keep doing what we have been doing for a month and a half or so and are going to be just fine and hopefully we can go to Homestead after Phoenix,” said Suarez.
If Suarez can hang on to secure a spot in the Championship race at Homestead, he will become the first-ever foreign-born driver to battle for a championship in any series under the new Chase format.