Overjoyed with emotion in scoring his maiden victory at the NASCAR level, Daniel Suárez said, “I just have no words. I don’t think I could speak English or Spanish right now.”
“This machine is unbelievable and it was unbelievably fast,” he went on to say. “Everyone on this 19 car, this Toyota Camry, did an amazing job. Definitely the fastest car out there. I just have no words to describe what I’m feeling right now. It’s just unbelievable and to win this weekend with my friend Erik Jones and for the loss of his Dad, it’s just unbelievable. I would like to dedicate this win to him.”
Suárez, a NASCAR Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next alum, also took a moment to mention teammate Erik Jones, whose father passed away on Tuesday at the age of 53, after losing a battle to cancer.
“I would like to dedicate this victory to Erik and his family,” he said.
After being busted for speeding early on in the race, the driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota overcame being sent to the rear, passed his teammate Kyle Busch with two laps to go and scored the victory in the Menards 250 at Michigan International Speedway.
“That was a very, very fast race car,” Suárez said of Busch’s car in the closing laps. “We had a penalty at the beginning of the race and that was my bad. Then since practice we had a little issue with the clutch and we thought we fixed it and then in the second half of the race it came back again, but that will happen when you have a really fast car. Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing and everything they’ve been doing to build really fast race cars and I’m just very proud to be part of this family and this organization.”
It’s his first win in 48 starts in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, 11th top-10 finish in the 2016 season and first top-10 finish in two starts at Michigan. He’s the first Mexican national to win a national-level NASCAR race, sixth foreign-born driver to win a race in the XFINITY Series, second to win one on an oval track and first to do so since Canadian national Larry Pollard at Langley Speedway in 1987.
Busch led a race-high of 88 laps on his way to a runner-up finish in his No. 18 JGR Toyota.
“You never want to get beat, but its cool when you get beat fair and square,” Busch said of coming in second to Suárez. “He did a really good job. He ran me down and had a really good car there at the end and passed me and did everything he needed to do, so congratulations Daniel Suarez, that’s pretty awesome. First win here, and to beat us – to beat a car like, a guy like me. Kyle Busch charm school finished one, two, four today. I’ll take what we can get with our NOS Energy Drink Camry. Obviously we want to win and thought we had the best car the majority of the race, just last 20 laps or so, got really loose on me. I wasn’t able to hold the corners like I needed to in order to maintain the lead I needed to stay in front.”
It’s his eighth top-10 finish in nine races at Michigan and eighth of 2016.
Paul Menard led one lap on his way to rounding out the podium in his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. It’s his ninth top-10 finish in 11 starts at Michigan.
Erik Jones, whose No. 20 Toyota carried the name of his father, Dave Jones, above the window of his car, led 18 laps on his way to a fourth-place finish in his JGR Toyota.
“Just missed it,” Jones said of his performance in the latter half of the race. “I don’t know, we were way too tight at the end. The Reser’s Camry just wasn’t good enough today. It’s unfortunate, but we just struggled all day with it being too tight and it got worse and worse as the race went on. We couldn’t keep up with adjustments, but we’ll work at it to get better and we’ll get another one soon.”
Elliott Sadler got around Kyle Busch in the closing laps of the race for two laps before getting loose in turn 1 and losing the lead. He would settle for rounding out the top-five in his No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.
Joey Logano finished sixth in his No. 22 Team Penske Ford.
“Man, there is not much good I can say about that,” Logano said. “I don’t know how we finished sixth. We were missing it everywhere. Everyone made a mistake. It is hard to be positive. I made a mistake leaving the pit box and we had bad pit stops and needed more speed in the Mustang today. Nothing good happens when you have all three of those things going wrong for you. I don’t know.”
Alex Bowman led the opening 11 laps, but lost the lead to Jones and finished seventh in his No. 88 JRM Chevrolet. Justin Allgaier finished eighth in his No. 7 JRM Chevrolet followed by Darrell Wallace Jr. who finished ninth in his No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.
“It is hot, I will tell you that,” Wallace said. “Man. It was a solid day for us really. From how we started and how we practiced we shouldn’t have had any speed with our LoudMouth Exhaust Ford Mustang. I didn’t think we would finish in the top-10 with how bad it was but we kept after it. I keep saying over and over again that when we have these headaches of a day, practice day and qualifying runs, I keep telling myself that we will race better and we always do. I am glad that nothing freaky happened and we were able to come away with a solid top-10 and this has been one of the hardest seasons for all of us but we are still in it. Our heads are still up. I may be a little more sweaty than others, though.”
Brandon Jones rounded out the top-10 in his No. 33 RCR Chevrolet.
JJ Yeley, who led one lap, finished 20th.
Thirty-one cars finished the race and 19 finished on the lead lap. Chris Cockrum exited the race after his car rear-ended the wall with 39 laps remaining. Jeff Green and BJ McLeod both had transmission issues and were unable to finish the race. Mario Gosselin exited the race with a vibration and Morgan Shepherd had an early exit after an oil leak. John Jackson exited the race with clutch issues. Josh Williams exited the race due to overheating. Josh Wise and Matt DiBenedetto exited the race due to rear gear failure.
The race lasted one hour, 36 minutes and 11 seconds at an average speed of 155.952 mph. There were 11 lead changes among seven different drivers and three cautions for 14 laps.
Suárez leaves Michigan with an 18-point lead over Sadler and Ty Dillon.