By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
The speed appears to have returned for Daniel Suarez as he finished in the top-10 at Pocono Raceway.
Under the final caution of the Pocono 400, Suarez’s No. 41 Haas Demo Days Ford Mustang was one of several that elected not to pit. The strategy for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver proved to work out as he found himself in the middle of the action.
As the field spread out entering turn one, Suarez slipped backward, those with fresh tires passing him. However, trouble for Kyle Larson as the field exited turn one cut the momentum of the others. Suarez, who started ninth, capitalized on the opportunity and cruised to an eighth-place finish.
“We had a little bit more speed than an eighth-place car but we struggled through the race at one point in traffic,” Suarez admitted. “We got the balance back by the end but it wasn’t easy. I feel like a top-10 is what we deserve today and we have to work on it.”
Restarts proved to be key throughout the race with passing at a premium. For Suarez, that made the race difficult. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver struggled to put the power down on restarts. Suarez avoided losing too much ground on restarts, using pit strategy from crew chief Billy Scott to gain track position.
“I felt like the restarts were a struggle for me today,” Suarez explained. “I just couldn’t go. I am not sure if we had too much shocks or something but I was struggling a lot. At least in corner one. Everything else was fine but I was struggling quite a bit.
“My teammates did a good job. My team did a good job. It was a top-10 and that is what we deserve for the speed we had and we will have to keep working to get better.”
The difficulty to pass helped Suarez earn his fifth top-10 finish of the season, his first since Bristol earlier this season, where he also finished eighth.
Suarez remains 13th in the championship points standings, 200-points behind points leader, and race winner, Kyle Busch. He is also just 26-points ahead of the cutoff for the playoffs, currently held by Kyle Larson via a tie-breaker.