Twenty points-paying NASCAR Cup Series races ago, Daniel Suárez and his No. 96 It’s Good To Be Genuine Toyota Parts & Service Camry for the single-car Gaunt Brothers Racing (GBR) team scored one of their best finishes of the season in the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Saturday night, the 28-year-old native of Monterrey, Mexico and his Toyota of the same name return to “The Last Great Colosseum” looking to better that season-best finish of 18th on May 31 – which he and the team replicated 10 races later at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City – during the always highly anticipated Bass Pro Shops Night Race.
Relegated to the 37th starting position on that Sunday afternoon in May as the best of the Cup Series’ non-chartered teams, which had been the case 14 times this season before grid positions became performance-based six races before the end of the regular season, Suárez overcame an early drive-through penalty and numerous multicar incidents on track to bring his No. 96 Toyota home 18th and on the lead lap. It was the first of three top-20 finishes and third of eight top-25s for the 11th-year team, which took on the full Cup Series schedule for the first time since joining NASCAR’s top ranks as a part-time team in 2017.
The team’s calculated but determined building project toward competitiveness week in and week out with the series’ much larger, longstanding organizations continues with what is expected to be another eventful night of racing on the high-banked, half-mile concrete Bristol oval. The third and final Round of 16 event in this year’s Cup Series playoffs promises plenty of fireworks with 13 playoff drivers expected to fight tooth-and-nail for the nine remaining transfer spots into the Round of 12.
Like they did on that Sunday afternoon in May, Suárez and the No. 96 It’s Good To Be Genuine Toyota Parts & Service Camry team look to steer clear of Saturday night’s expected mayhem, and in the process bring home their top finish of the season.