By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas — Stewart-Haas Racing made Texas Motor Speedway their own playground after the four-car stable led 245 of 334 laps and had a 1-2-3 finish in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500.
Among the top-three finishers was Daniel Suarez, who backed up his third-place result from the spring race with yet another third as his No. 41 Walmart Family Mobile Ford Mustang wowed his fan club “Daniel’s Amigos” by leading 25 laps.
Having people Suarez cares about support him at the 1.5-mile circuit and with the addition having a beautiful Day of the Dead helmet design, he commented that the positives really made his weekend.
“This weekend was very special. Having a lot of friends, family and obviously the Daniel’s Amigos group,” Suarez said. “Having a special helmet for Dia de los Muertos. A lot of good things happened this weekend and it was nice to close with a solid performance.”
Overall, Suarez’s Ford proved to be fierce as he was one of the top non-playoff drivers all afternoon. He was satisfied with his eighth career top-five finish.
“It was a very solid night. I’m very happy with the performance and the speed that we’ve brought from the shop,” Suarez said. “Everyone back at the shop did an amazing job. We knew we were going to be fast here.
“We had a solid performance here last time and we did a good job. We had a good execution and a good clean day. Very happy with the No. 41 Ford. It was very sporty. I’m very happy for Kevin (Harvick), having his ticket for Homestead.”
Both race winner Harvick and runner-up finisher Aric Almirola proved to be challenging for the 27-year-old, especially when he was battling for the lead.
Suarez gave further props to Harvick, especially coming from sixth to ultimately take the race lead.
“Kevin had a rocket. He was very fast,” Suarez on Harvick. “I don’t know how he was able to come back quick, but he was very fast. I’m very happy for him because he had an amazing week.”
Furthermore, multiple battles with Almirola in Stage 2 were electric but it made Suarez realize that Almirola was too good and lost the lead on Lap 202.
Once the crew were able to make the proper adjustments necessary to get him back on track, it wasn’t meant to be but had fun racing against him.
“I feel like I wasn’t as good as Aric was earlier in the run with stickers and stuff,” Suarez on racing Almirola. “I was able to work on that later in the run. Unfortunately, it was a little bit too late.”
While a win is yet to be accomplished and still facing an unknown career path after the 2019 campaign, Suarez was congratulated by SHR co-owner Tony Stewart after finally snapping a horrid skid of finishing outside the top-30 in four out of the last five races.
“Tony was very happy. How nice to have a good clean day after the last few weeks,” Suarez said. “We’ve had fast race cars, but we’ve made mistakes and were caught in wrecks. It was nice to finally to have a good clean day and put everything together.”
Suarez moves up a spot in the championship standings as he now sits 17th with two races remaining, including the Bluegreen Vacations 500 at ISM Raceway November 10.