Photo: Logan T. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Pit Road Miscue Sinks Suarez’s Chance to Battle for Indianapolis Win

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

INDIANAPOLIS – Daniel Suarez was in the thick of the fight for the win Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but will have to wonder “What if?” after a late race pit road snafu took him out of contention.

Starting on pole, the driver of the No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet was a part of a three-driver trio that dominated the day, along with Michael McDowell and Chase Elliott.

Until the final round of green flag pit stops, it seemed that any of the three could be the ones taking the elevator ride to the top of the Indianapolis victory podium. Suarez himself had led six laps on two separate occasions.

Ducking off onto pit road on Lap 49, the trouble began for Suarez when the air hose got caught under his left front tire, costing his crew valuable seconds as they worked to get the hose freed before completing the service on his car. By the time he returned to the track, he was mired back in third-place, more than nine seconds behind McDowell and Elliott.

Though he was able to chip away at the deficit between himself and the leaders, Suarez only clawed back to within six seconds by the time the checkered flag flew.

While it was still a podium finish, Suarez was undoubtedly dejected with the way his race had played out, but remained gracious in defeat, especially when it came to the issues on pit road that flipped his day upside down.

“We win and we lose as a team, and that’s all I can say,” Suarez said. “The guys brought a very fast race car. I felt that maybe we were one adjustment behind in the first run with the back of the car, but then we made it a little bit better.

“But I felt like I was always one step behind the 9 and the 34, and then at the end, I felt that when my car came alive again, we had that issue.

“Just a little bit heartbreaking, but that’s part of the sport. All we can do is continue to push, continue to build race cars like this, and I’ll keep on winning races. I can’t thank everyone at Trackhouse Racing, all our sponsors, Freeway Insurance, all the people that help us to perform this way.”

With McDowell securing the win and taking another Playoff spot off the board, Suarez drops to a double-digit deficit under the cut-off line, now sitting 28 points behind Bubba Wallace.

If there were any positives to take out of the day, it’s that Suarez and his team have shown their strength on the road courses and are already looking ahead to next week’s race at Watkins Glen as a place they can shine again.

“Definitely we can perform I think even better,” Suarez said. “I felt like yesterday we were very strong, and today we were strong. We were lacking a little bit. I didn’t like my first half of the race. But I’m pretty sure we’re going to go back, analyze everything, and come back stronger next week.”

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.