Daniel Suarez Playoff Pressure Is Mounting

Daniel Suárez and the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) head north to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon for a Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the Granite State facility.

 

At Kentucky Speedway in Sparta last weekend, the Mexico native earned the pole position. It was the second of his Cup Series career with his first coming at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway last July. A speed of 184.590 mph earned him the prime starting position for last Saturday night’s 400-mile race at Kentucky. The pole award notched Suárez’s eighth top-10 starting spot in 2019.

 

Suárez led 52 laps at Kentucky but was forced to overcome an unscheduled green-flag pit stop for a flat tire, and a speeding penalty that eventually sent him three laps down. A fast No. 41 Ford, along with calls made by crew chief Billy Scott, enabled Suárez to get back to on the lead lap and finish eighth.

 

In his junior Cup Series season, Suárez has accumulated two top-five finishes and seven top-10s, along with a total of 105 laps led. The Mustang driver has an average start of 15.8 and an average finish of 15.3 this season.

 

The Haas driver is currently 18th in the Cup Series standings, separated by 10 points from 14th-place teammate Clint Bowyer to round out the four-driver SHR contingent. The top 16 drivers after the 26 regular-season races will earn a spot in the Cup Series playoffs. If Suárez captures a playoff position, it will be the first of his Cup Series career. Last year, all four SHR entries secured at least one regular-season win and a playoff spot.

 

The 27-year-old Suárez is making his fourth Cup Series career start at New Hampshire, where he has two top-10 finishes, along with an average starting position of 16.0 and an average finishing position of 12.0.

 

In the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the “Magic Mile,” Suárez started third and finished fifth in 2015 and started fourth and finished fourth during his series championship season of 2016.

 

At Kentucky last weekend, Suárez wore special skeleton-printed gloves as part of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s “Driven to Give Gloves” initiative benefitting Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The race-worn gloves are now available for bid via nascarfoundation.org/dalejr.

 

SHR has four victories at New Hampshire – by team co-owner Tony Stewart and former SHR driver Ryan Newman in 2011, and Suárez’s current teammate Kevin Harvick in 2016 and 2018.

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Speedway Digest Staff

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