Toyota Racing – Daniel Suárez
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Daytona Media Day – February 14, 2018
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Daniel Suárez was made available to the media in Daytona:
DANIEL SUÁREZ, No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What’s been the difference looking back from last year to this year?
“Well, there is a lot of difference for sure, knowing what to expect, where you’re at, knowing your team. All that kind of information is obviously very important. Last year I had a lot of questions, and I didn’t know a lot of the answers of all these questions, and now I know where I’m at. Now I know where I need to be. I know our goals. We’re all just more comfortable. That’s the word, more comfortable, more confidence, and I feel like that is going to help the entire year.”
How are you feeling entering the Daytona 500, just with the car and everything like that?
“Well, there’s been a lot of rule changes during the off‑season that nobody really knows exactly what to expect until we get into the Daytona 500 on Sunday. The Duels and everything is going to help, but we have to make our way there, and hopefully with the primary car.”
Looking back at last season, is there something that you entered the season or something that concerned you that now you know and you’re comfortable with?
“Yeah, there is a lot of things, just knowing the tracks, knowing your people, knowing your crew chief, engineers. That’s something very important that you have to build on. You know, all the information that I get every week, that’s something that you have to get adapt. Knowing all that, I feel like this season is going to be much better.”
Who do you think is going to be the next most popular driver in NASCAR now that Dale Jr. has retired?
“I don’t really know, but I’m not worried about it, either. The only thing I’m worried about right now is the Daytona 500.”
Being from Mexico, have you gotten a big following in Mexico or from Hispanics or Latinos?
“Yeah, I feel like the Latin American population has been growing, following the sport, following NASCAR, not just here in the U.S. but in Latin America, in Mexico, in Brazil, Argentina, all these places, Colombia, and I feel like that really will go a long ways.”
Has there been any new Hispanic or Latino drivers coming up from other countries?
“Yeah, I feel like now that we are in the Cup Series, I feel like there is a lot of drivers in Mexico and in all these places that they are trying to make it here. I have a few friends from Mexico that they are working hard to try to make it to the U.S., from Brazil, as well. It’s great for me, you know, to have a lot of friends and drivers, great drivers to follow the path that we have done with a lot of help from a lot of people, and I feel like that’s something special, and hopefully we can help them as much as we can.”
What would it mean to you to come out of here as the Daytona 500 champion?
“That would be huge. Hopefully we can make it happen. It’s been a long off‑season, and hopefully we can make something happen. It’s going to be very special.”
How much more confidence do you have going into this year’s 500 compared to last year?
“Well, last year, a lot of things happened very quick. I didn’t know what to expect in a lot of different aspects, so hopefully we can be strong.”
What does NASCAR’s Drive 4 Diversity program mean to you?
“It helped me a lot. For the two years that I was there, it really helped me a lot, but it’s a combination of things. The program helps you a lot to develop yourself and to learn in the regional series like the K&N Series, but to make the next step, that’s maybe one of the toughest things you have to do, and sometimes you have to do that with different resources. Luckily I had help from some other people that was able to take me to the next level.”
Are you glad to kind of see NASCAR diving more into the more international?
“Yeah, yeah, for sure. I think that’s something really very helpful for everyone. I mean, not just because I’m the one, but if we can make the sport international, I think that would be huge for a lot of drivers, for fans, and for sponsors, as well.”
What kind of music do you listen to?
“I listen to everything. Spanish music, pop music.”
Do you listen to country music at all?
“Yeah, a little bit, not too much.”
Rascal Flatts is doing the opening ceremony for the Daytona 500 ‑‑
“I don’t really know who they are.”
I know you’ve been busy coming here with the Daytona 500 and Speedweeks. Have you had a chance to watch the Olympics at all?
“Yeah, yeah, for sure. I follow those guys a lot. I think it’s very cool that those guys are doing what they are doing. I had actually the opportunity to be in Colorado training a little bit with those guys, and it’s an amazing experience.”
Is there a favorite sport that you have in the winter Olympics?
“It’s hard to choose just one because I like a few of them. You know, knowing a few of those guys already, I think that makes, at least for me, even more fun to watch it, to know a person that is doing something out there. It’s very cool.”
Because you are an athlete, as well, so you know the preparation that goes into that.
“Yeah, those guys are the real deal. They spend a lot of time working on themselves for just ‑‑ for a lot of events, but for that one, that’s a big one, so it’s huge.”
So now you being an athlete here in NASCAR, any chance one day you’ll be on Dancing With the Stars representing NASCAR?
“I’m not planning to do that.”
Last year at this time we were talking about the Cars movie up here. How cool is it now from your perspective that there are kids who have a die cast of one of your characters?
“Yeah, that’s very cool. You know, a lot of people, a lot of kids, they enjoy watching all the cars movies, and for me it’s very special to have all these kids come into the races wearing the Danny Swervez tee‑shirt or the Cars 3 movie tee‑shirt and as well, the little scale cars. It’s something very cool. It’s special to be part of that.”
Back when they were doing the tandem drafting a few years ago, they let the drivers in the car have a dial where they can talk to the other drivers so they know when to push ‑‑
“I didn’t know that. When was that?”
When they were doing the two‑car tandem drafts.
“I remember that. That was like five years ago.”
What if NASCAR came to you and said, hey, you can talk to any driver in any race; would you be interested in talking trash or talking to other drivers?
“Oh, man, you can do a little bit of that with the spotters. I’m not sure that would be helpful, though, because on the one hand, you can use it in a bad way, too. You can use it to talk about strategy with someone or to yell at someone. I prefer to keep it that way. Sometimes when you want to thank someone or you want to pass a message to someone, you just tell your spotter, and they do the job. I think we have part of that still.”
So you trust that your spot is delivering the message?
“Yeah, yeah, for sure. Actually when he can’t deliver the message, he tells me, I wasn’t able to find the spotter, or he tells me, message delivered. I’ve got the information. I’m not sure if everyone else does, but I do.”