Daniel Suárez, Tootsies, and Trackhouse Racing Ready to Make History At Season-Opening, 65th Annual Daytona 500
Trackhouse Racing's Daniel Suárez Places12th in Daytona Duels
Started 24th in Sunday's Daytona 500
A Mexican driver would love nothing more than to win The Great American Race.
That's Daniel Suárez's quest this week as he embarks on DAYTONA Speedweeks Presented by AdventHealth in preparation for the 65th annual Daytona 500 - NASCAR's most prestigious race.
Last year, Suárez became the first Mexican (Monterrey) to win a Cup Series race when he dominated at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in June. He’d love nothing more than to join Mario Andretti as the only foreign-born drivers to win the Daytona 500.
A victory at Daytona will mark Chevrolet's 25th win in the 500 and its 50th Cup Series win as a manufacturer at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
Suárez will certainly know where to celebrate if he adds to those totals.
Longtime sponsor Tootsie's World-Famous Orchid Lounge, the legendary and historic honky-tonk in the heart of Nashville's Lower Broadway entertainment district, will serve as the primary sponsor on Trackhouse Racing’s No. 99 Chevrolet Camaro for the race as well as multiple races in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Suárez arrives in Florida after finishing 19th at the season-opening Clash exhibition race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The No. 99 showed speed, but damage from an early wreck slowed his progress in the closing laps.
Suárez joined single-car qualifying Wednesday night, placed 12th in one of the Daytona Duels on Thursday night, and started 24th in the Daytona 500 on Sunday.
Are the expectations higher in 2023?
“The expectations are definitely higher than last year. Last year, our team was working very hard. We didn’t know where that would take us, but we were hoping it would take us somewhere good. I feel like now, it’s a little bit different because we know what we’re capable of doing. We know that we’re capable of winning and we know that we’re capable of racing with some of the teams that have been doing this for a long time. We have to go out there and just continue to work because in my opinion, if we do exactly the same thing that we did last year, it won’t be enough. Everyone is always evolving, so we have to continue to work and show up every weekend with the best that we can do.”
What is the Daytona 500 like?
“It’s an incredible event. Such a cool experience. It’s amazing it was sold out so early in January. I can’t wait to go to Daytona and put on a show for everyone.”
What strategy do you have for Thursday's Daytona Duels?
"The Duels before the Daytona 500 are so nerve-racking. That’s the car you are going to be racing for 500 miles on Sunday. You just want to try to make sure you keep your car in one piece. The last thing you want is to wreck it and go to a backup. So, in the Duels, its very important to be aggressive but be smart and learn from that race heading into the Daytona 500.”
What is it like the moments before the Daytona 500?
“Sometimes when I am taking pictures in front of my car my mind is already focused on the race. People will ask me about something we talked about before we get in the car and I can’t remember because I was so focused on the race.
"When I climb in the car at Daytona I think the first thing I think of is how very thankful I am to get this opportunity. We have so many good things happening in my life, with Trackhouse, (fiancé) Julia (Piquet), the people around me. There is so much hype, so many people in the grandstands and so many people around the car that you can’t even see the cars around you when you jump into the car. Once I get into the car, I try to reset my mind and get going. It takes a little bit of time. Once I get to that point, it's 100 percent focus on the race and what we must do on the track."
Predictions for 2023?
"I feel like I am going to be able to accomplish so many things with this team this year. This is going to be our best season yet."
Suárez, 31, became the first driver from Mexico (Monterrey) to win in the NASCAR Cup Series on June 12, 2022 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. He became the fifth different driver all-time not from the United States to win a NASCAR Cup Series race; joining Marcos Ambrose (Australia), Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia) Earl Ross (Canada) and Mario Andretti (Italy). Suárez drives for the third-year team Trackhouse Racing – a team owned by former racer Justin Marks and partner Pitbull. Trackhouse Racing won three races in 2022 and placed both Suárez and teammate Ross Chastain in the 2022 playoffs. Suárez finished a career-best 10th in points. Suárez, came to America to race. He did not speak English when he arrived in Buffalo, New York. He is the only Spanish-speaking driver in the NASCAR Cup Series. Suárez became the first Latin American, as well as the first NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate, to win a NASCAR national series title when he won the 2016 Xfinity Series championship. In 2016, he became the first Mexican driver to win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, claiming three victories at Michigan, Dover, and the championship finale at Homestead-Miami. He was the 2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year - the first Mexican driver to win the award. In 2013, Suárez finished third in the ARCA Menards Series East final championship standings, the highest finish for an international driver in series history. Suárez and fiancé Julia Piquet were engaged in November 2022. Suárez received the National Series Driver Award during the NASCAR Diversity Awards in Los Angeles in February. Suárez is a fan of the Mexican Soccer team Tigres UANL - he grew up playing soccer.