By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
A week after a pit penalty bit Daniel Suarez’s bid of a strong result at Atlanta, he was able to deliver big at Bristol.
Suarez crossed the line in fourth, bringing Trackhouse Racing its maiden top-five in just their seventh race.
Despite being a dirt track, not only Suarez adapted extremely well, he even led 58 laps in Monday’s race. It wasn’t a maiden NASCAR Cup Series win for him and Trackhouse, but certainly felt sweet.
“To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing. But we’re having fun,” said Suarez. “Everyone at Trackhouse Racing did an amazing job. This is the second week in a row that we’ve had very fast race cars capable of running in the Top-5, Top-10. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Stage 2 was when the series veteran made a lot of noise when he took the race lead on Lap 134. Suarez passed Truck Series winner Martin Truex, Jr. and began having a sizeable lead.
Indeed, it wasn’t during green flag pit stops like most races he’s led, but also reminded folks the following thought.
This new Cup team led by Justin Marks and Pitbull are here to play.
Although Suarez lost the lead to eventual race winner Joey Logano on Lap 193, it was a blast being up front. More so under these circumstances because Suarez had no experience of dirt racing until this week.
“It was a challenge. Last probably five days ago was my first time ever on a dirt car. It was a lot of fun,” said Suarez.
“I really enjoy a lot. I enjoy a lot, as well, the entire weekend,” Suarez continued. “Overall I felt that we’re very close. That always bring a smile to my face. But it wasn’t close enough. So we have to keep working.”
He’s also satisfied that NASCAR and Bristol Motor Speedway confirmed they’ll run on dirt again in 2022.
“Now I’m excited actually that we’re going to come back next year with another shot to race and compete for the win in Bristol on dirt,” Suarez on the announcement.
One of the main reasons Suarez regressed after losing the lead to Logano was the track conditions. He even spoke with third-place finisher Denny Hamlin about it after the race.
Due to this, the balance of his No. 99 Camping World Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was lost.
“They did a lot of things to the racetrack, to some cars it came to them, some others they lost the balance a little bit. Unfortunately I was one of those that lost the balance a little bit,” Suarez commented.
“For some reason, my rear grip wasn’t the same. I felt that my car was capable to challenge for the race lead before that. I kind of like had a plan in my mind.
“The last 50 laps for some reason I lost that grip. I just couldn’t do much about it. From being a first- or second-place car, I became a fifth- to fourth-place car. That’s exactly where we ended. It’s a learning curve.”
Dirt racing aside, Suarez’s fourth-place outing was his first top-five since Texas in November 2019 when he finished third.
With Martinsville commencing in two weeks time, Suarez is confident the performance will continue growing.
“I definitely believe that this team is very good and we just keep getting better and better. I’m just very excited and happy to be back racing with these guys,” Suarez on his race team.
“I feel like Martinsville has been a good place for me in the past. I’m really looking forward, like I said, a few days off, then come back with my group, work hard and try to build a good piece for Martinsville. I’m sure we’re going to have a lot of fun there.”