By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
If it wasn’t for a speeding penalty on the final green flag pit stop, Daniel Suarez’s day could’ve been different.
During Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Suarez had a top-10 run going. Rather than being one of a couple of cars leading during pit stops again, Suarez showed tremendous pace.
More so, during the tail end of Stage 2 where he got Trackhouse Racing’s first stage point in its team’s run thus far. He wasn’t done with just a 10th stage result, the No. 99 CommScope Chevy was on pace of possibly getting a top-five.
All of this was done while having interim crew chief Jose Blasco-Figueroa. After the car had a loose lug nut at Phoenix last Sunday, Travis Mack was suspended for a week.
Thus, giving Blasco-Figueroa an opportunity of calling the shots for Suarez. Despite this, Suarez noted that the No. 99 crew missed Mack’s presence.
“Jose and I already know each other. So, it was good to have Jose today on the box, although we do miss Travis,” said Suarez. “Travis is very, very good and he already knows me. This was the first time ever working with Jose making the calls. I feel like, overall, it was a positive day. It’s just not the result that we deserve.”
The driver/crew chief combo made history as they became the first pairing from Mexico since Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez at Trenton in 1959. Pedro ended up sixth out of the 18-car field which also happened to be his Cup Series debut.
Ironically, that’s where Suarez was during the final set of pit stops as he was gaining ground on Austin Dillon.
As Suarez alluded, his day went downhill after NASCAR officials caught him speeding on pit road. Therefore, Suarez served a pass through and put him out of contention for a real superb finish.
In the end, Suarez wound up 17th. Definitely not the result he’d hoped after showcasing this new team with RCR sources are here to play.
“I’m very proud of everyone in this group. They work very, very hard. They build a very fast car,” Suarez on the Atlanta effort. “It was a car capable of finishing in the Top 10, that’s for sure. I made a mistake on my part that kind of got us out of contention. But it’s something very good to build on.”
After six races, Suarez has led in all but two of those and he’ll head into Bristol 23rd in points.
He’ll hope the progress continues in next Sunday’s 250-lap dirt race where there’s plenty of unknowns. Race coverage of the Food City Dirt Race begins at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX.