Daniel Suárez becomes first Mexican driver to win a NASCAR Cup race

After running inside the top five for the first two stages, Daniel Suárez controlled the race at the front for the final stage, holding off challenges from Chris Buescher and Kevin Harvick for the final 40 laps before pulling a four second lead heading to the chequered flag to get his first NASCAR Cup Series victory by winning the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at the Sonoma Raceway road course on Sunday.

Daniel Suárez, driver of the No. 99 Onx Homes/Renu Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

This was Suárez’s 195th career start in the Cup Series and his sixth season since joining the top division in 2017. Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Suárez becomes the first Mexican driver to win a NASCAR Cup race and joins the likes of Juan Pablo Montoya, who won the 2007 Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in his rookie year, in being the fifth foreign driver to win a Cup race.

Daniel Suárez celebrates with a Mexican flag after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Suárez also joins Austin Cindric, Ross Chastain and Chase Briscoe in becoming the fourth first-time winner in the Cup Series in 2022.

Daniel Suárez celebrates by drinking wine in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 12, 2022 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Speaking to FOX’s Jamie Little Suárez said: “A lot of people in Mexico, my family, they never gave up on me, a lot of people did but they didn’t. This is the first one of many.” Suárez was Trackhouse Racing’s first driver in the Cup Series when they entered in 2021 after buying Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR operation.

For Chris Buescher and Kevin Harvick, both had opportunities in the final stage to take the lead away but were unable to find a way past the No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet. Buescher, who was unable to race last week at WWT Raceway due to testing positive for Covid, had initially led the start of stage three but went wide at both turns four and seven and would drop back to fourth, handing the lead to Suárez.

Harvick moved up to second and was pressuring Suárez in what was a three-car battle for the lead for two laps before Buescher dived down the inside of Harvick in turn 11 to retake second.

On a restart with 23 laps to go, Suárez got a great launch over Buescher, but four laps later had to go defensive into turn 11 to cover Buescher off. With Buescher appearing unwilling to use the bumper with over 15 laps to go, Buescher would then proceed to slip back reporting he had weak forward drive and with five laps to go, Suárez had built a five second lead over him.

Daniel Suárez, driver of the No. 99 Onx Homes/Renu Chevrolet, leads Chris Buescher, driver of the No. 17 Fifth Third Bank Ford, during the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Talking to FOX, Buescher said: “I’m just disappointed with myself, didn’t get the job done there when it counted.” Both Buescher and Harvick were looking for their first win of the season.

Suárez smashed a taco piñata in celebration.

Suárez was not looking to be the race favourite as that went to Hendrick drivers Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott, as Larson and Elliott have dominated the road courses in recent years, but due to poor execution on pit road resulting in penalties, Larson would only manage 15th while Elliott finished eighth.

Kyle Larson was the reigning race winner and led the field to green before leading all 25 laps of stage one. Larson chose to go for the stage win instead of pitting for tyres and fuel prior to the end of stage one and would consequently start 24th. In the 2021 race, Larson was able to work his way to the front in stage two, but was only up to 14th when he and everyone pitted again.

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, leads the field to start the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 12, 2022 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

On the final pit stop with 28 laps to go, Larson’s crew would fail to get the front right tyre secured and instead Larson’s tyre came off the car in turn two after exiting the pits bringing out the caution and ending any hopes of a race win. His crew chief Cliff Daniels, and two crew members were all given a four-race suspension for the incident.

Elliott had ran inside the top three in stage one, only getting overtaken by Buescher for second with four laps to go in the stage before giving up stage points and pitting in exchange for a good starting spot for stage two. Elliott led most of stage two with Buescher following him and at one point had an eight second lead over then third place Suárez.

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, nears the wall exiting Turn 4A and heads down the short chute to turn 7 with Buescher, Chastain and Suarez behind (Photo by Alejandro Alvarez/NASCAR Digital Media)

In Elliott’s pit stop sequence at the end of stage two, disaster struck when Elliott was called back to the pit box by crew chief Alan Gustafson for having a loose left rear wheel but failed to get his car fully inside the box and instead the team serviced his car resulting in a costly penalty that saw Elliott start from the rear of the field for the final stage.

Elliott however was successful in delivering Hendrick Motorsports its 100,000 mile in leading Cup races during stage two. They are the first organization to reach the milestone.

Road course veteran Michael McDowell would finish third in the end after qualifying fourth and moving up to third in the opening laps before fighting amongst the top ten for the majority of the race.

Michael McDowell, driver of the No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford, racing in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 with Chris Buescher, Daniel Suárez and Tyler Reddick behind (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Apart from Larson’s loose wheel, the only other cause for caution came on lap 10 when Bubba Wallace’s engine let go.

After already spinning out in stage one, Erik Jones during stage two spun out trying to pass on the inside entering turn seven. Suárez’s Trackhouse Racing teammate Ross Chastain then performed a carbon copy of it a few laps trying to pass Suárez and fell back from fourth to seventh. Chastain had ran ahead of Suárez in third earlier in the stage.

Daniel Suárez (front) paces Trackhouse Racing teammate Ross Chastain (behind), driver of the No. 1 Worldwide Express Chevrolet during the Toyota/Save Mart 350 (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Joey Logano, after concluding they didn’t have a race winning car, decided to stay out at the end of stage two to bag a stage win and a playoff point. Logano fired off 24th at the start of stage three and finished 17th.

AJ Allmendinger had an incredible afternoon as despite having lost power steering early on in the race, he broke into the top 10 inside of 20 laps to go. Allmendinger risked bringing out the caution with two laps to go when he went off in turn three, the sight visible to “Daniel’s Amigos” who had been cheering Suárez on every lap, but Allmendinger got going, and the race stayed green until Suárez took the chequered flag.

FOX’s Mike Joy said: “You’ve got to love it when nice guys finish first.”

The FOX Deportes broadcast team enjoyed the win too!

The NASCAR Cup Series returns in two weeks time when they race at Nashville Superspeedway in the Ally 400.

Full race results: 1st Daniel Suárez, 2nd Chris Buescher, 3rd Michael McDowell, 4th Kevin Harvick, 5th Austin Cindric, 6th Ryan Blaney, 7th Ross Chastain, 8th Chase Elliott, 9th William Byron, 10th Brad Keselowski, 11th Austin Dillon, 12th Justin Haley, 13th Chase Briscoe, 14th Aric Almirola, 15th Kyle Larson, 16th Alex Bowman, 17th Joey Logano, 18th Kurt Busch, 19th AJ Allmendinger, 20th Joey Hand, 21st Cole Custer, 22nd Erik Jones, 23rd Ty Dillon, 24th Todd Gilliland, 25th Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 26th Martin Truex Jr., 27th Christopher Bell, 28th Harrison Burton, 29th Josh Bilicki, 30th Kyle Busch, 31st Denny Hamlin, 32nd Cody Ware, 33rd Scott Heckert, 34th Corey Lajoie, 35th Tyler Reddick, 36th Bubba Wallace

Stage 1 results: 1st Kyle Larson, 2nd Joey Logano, 3rd Kyle Busch, 4th Justin Haley, 5th Aric Almirola, 6th Harrison Burton, 7th Josh Bilicki, 8th Kurt Busch, 9th Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 10th Cody Ware.

Stage 2 results: 1st Joey Logano, 2nd Aric Almirola, 3rd Chris Buescher, 4th Daniel Suárez, 5th Kevin Harvick, 6th Todd Gilliland, 7th Harrison Burton, 8th Michael McDowell, 9th Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 10th Ryan Blaney.

Featured Image: Daniel Suárez , driver of the #99 Onx Homes/Renu Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 12, 2022 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

How Charlotte’s 600 escalated into Talladega chaos

From Ryan Blaney causing The Big One, to Chris Buescher barrel-rolling down the infield grass, NASACR’s Coca-Cola 600 last weekend was far from the usually more tame and methodical 600 mile race and instead was one of the most dramatic and longest stock car races in recent history. 

This year’s “longest night in stock car racing” didn’t even start off like a typical Coca-Cola 600 as by the end of stage one there had been four cautions not including the stage ending caution for Chase Elliott’s stage one win.

Austin Cindric, driver of the No. 2 Menards/Cardell Cabinetry Ford, spins after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 2022 (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

In recent editions of the race, the first half or more has been comprised of long green flag runs and a strung out field but this race was not like the others. One large contributor to more spins in the race such as Kyle Busch spinning out as Daniel Suárez ran him tight in turns one and two in stage one, is that the new NASCAR Cup cars are much harder to save once the car steps out and begins spinning compared to the old 6th gen NASCAR. With little practice time before the races and spec parts that teams are not allowed to modify, not to mention the absence of in-car adjustments for drivers during the race, the challenge is only heightened.

Late on in stage two, Ryan Blaney spun out in front of the pack in turns one and two causing The Big One that is usually only seen at Daytona and Talladega. Over ten cars were caught up in the pile up.

Aside from the several spin-outs by drivers in the first two stages, there had been thrilling side by side action with many drivers fighting over positions throughout the field including for the lead with Suárez who would go on to take the stage two win after fending off Trackhouse Racing teammate Ross Chastain and Erik Jones.

Daniel Suarez, driver of the No. 99 CommScope Chevrolet, and Ross Chastain, driver of the No. 1 Advent Health Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 2022 (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The NASCAR drivers were racing in honour of fallen veterans as the Coca-Cola 600 runs on Memorial Day Weekend. During the stage two break, for the second year running, NASCAR brought the cars down pit road and parked them and paused the race to take a moment to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Drivers and  pit crews pause for a moment of remembrance in the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 2022 (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The second half of the race proved only to be more wild as the 16th caution of the night came out halfway in stage four when Chris Buescher, after piling into a spinning Daniel Suárez , was sent skidding across the infield grass before the car got hooked causing it to flip over wildly several times before coming to a stop upside down . Buescher’s car was righted by the AMR safety team. He was ok.

With two laps to go in the race Kyle Larson was holding off Chase Briscoe for the lead. Larson’s night had been a rollercoaster ride in itself. After qualifying 36th and making his way through to the top half of the field, Larson would get two pit equipment interference penalties in quick succession that sent him to the rear each time. His car also caught fire forcing him to take two emergency trips down pit road. He then spun out on old tyres in turn four in stage two after having led the race on the previous restart. With plenty of laps left and plenty of cautions to bunch up the field, Larson was able to finish third in stage three and get by Chastain, the stage three winner, in turn three to take the lead with 46 laps to go.

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, spins after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 2022. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Larson’s amazing comeback would be halted when Briscoe spun out on his own in turns one and two with two laps to go as he sent it into turn one in an attempt to pass Larson.

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 2022. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The first overtime restart saw Laron’s chance of another Coca-Cola 600 win come to an end as Austin Dillon had got alongside him in turns three and four before washing up and slowing them down before Hamlin and Chastain joined them to make it four wide coming off turn four heading to get the white flag. They would only see yellow as Dillon drifted up slightly and would get turned around off of Larson’s front bumper causing another multi-car crash down the front straightaway with Larson caught in it.

Instead it would come down to Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch for the 600 win on the next overtime restart. Polesitter Hamlin would race side by side with Busch for the first lap but would clear Busch in turns one and two on the final lap to finally win his first Coca-Cola 600.

Hamlin said: It’s so special. It’s the last big one that’s not on my resume. It meant so much.”

Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota, crosses the finish line ahead of Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Red White and Blue Toyota, to win the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 2022. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

It was NASCAR’s longest Cup race in history in terms of distance with the drivers having raced for 619.5 miles (413 laps) before taking the checkered flag and was the third longest Coca-Cola 600 ever after having raced for five hoursthirteen minutes, and eight seconds. It was only 34 seconds shy of being longer than the second longest Coca-Cola 600 race in 2005. The first Coca-Cola 600 in 1960 had been the longest being five hours and thirty four minutes long.

The 2022 edition of the Coca-Cola 600 had been one of the most competitive and action packed thrillers in years and delivered a race on a weekend where the world was watching after the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indy 500 earlier that day, making it an unforgettable day in racing.

Full race results: 1st Denny Hamlin, 2nd Kyle Busch, 3rd Kevin Harvick, 4th Chase Briscoe, 5th Christopher Bell, 6th Tyler Reddick, 7th Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 8th Michael McDowell, 9th Kyle Larson, 10th Alex Bowman, 11th Harrison Burton, 12th Martin Truex Jr., 13th Ty Dillon, 14th Erik Jones, 15th Ross Chastain, 16th Todd Gilliland, 17th Aric Almirola, 18th Cody Ware, 19th BJ McLeod, 20th Joey Logano, 21st Cole Custer, 22nd Austin Dillon, 23rd Kaz Grala, 24th Noah Gragson, 25th Daniel Suárez, 26th Chris Buescher, 27th Justin Haley, 28th Bubba Wallace, 29th Ryan Blaney, 30th Brad Keselowski, 31st Kurt Busch, 32nd William Byron, 33rd Chase Elliott, 34th Austin Cindric, 35th Corey Lajoie, 36th Josh Bilicki, 37th Ryan Preece.

Featured Image: Chris Buescher, driver of the No. 17 Fifth Third Bank Ford, flips into the infield grass after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 2022. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

 

Elliott outduels Chastain to win at Dover

Chase Elliott, after outdueling Ross Chastain, led the final 53 laps of the DuraMAX Drydene 400 at Dover Motor Speedway on Monday to get his first NASCAR Cup win of the season and end his 26 winless streak. It had been 46 races since Elliott’s last oval win; that being at Phoenix in 2020 when he won his first Cup championship.

Chase Elliott, the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

The final stage of the race had been led by Kyle Busch and Elliott’s Hendrick teammate Alex Bowman but an ill-timed caution with 77 laps to go when both were making their final green flag pit stops of the race, saw them both go a lap down and be forced to take the wave around under caution and start at the tail of the longest line. Bowman would bring the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet home in fifth with Kyle Busch finishing seventh.

2022 two-time winner Ross Chastain had assumed the lead of the race after the ill-timed caution but with 60 to go on a restart, he dueled side by side with Chase Elliott for three laps with neither giving an inch before another caution came out. The next restart saw Elliott power past Chastain on the inside and would lead from then on to take the checkered flag.

Talking to FOX’s Jamie Little, Elliott said they “had some good circumstances finally. We’ve had some tough races over the last four or five months” and also said it was great to get NAPA and Hendrick Motorsports back to victory lane.

Chase Elliott celebrates with pit crew/team (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Elliott joins the rest of his Hendrick teammates in being a 2022 Cup winner and comes out of Dover retaining the points lead in the regular season championship.

Elliott’s win has made history for Hendrick Motorsports by making them the first team to have four different drivers win a Cup race in the first 11 races of the season. Hendrick also had a one-two-three-four finish at Dover in the 2021 Cup race, which made it the fourth time in NASCAR history that the same organization swept the first four positions in a Cup race.

Chase Elliott (left) and crew crew chief Alan Gustafson (right) celebrate in victory lane with Miles the Monster trophy (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch led the most laps of the day, leading 133 of the 400 laps, but the ill-timed caution for a loose tyre out on the race track and loss of track position was too much for the birthday boy to overcome. It also ended Busch’s two for two streak of winning when a Cup race fell on his birthday.

Kyle Busch, the No. 18 M&M’s Crunchy Cookie Toyota, racing in the DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The race had originally got under way on Sunday afternoon, with pole sitter Chris Buescher leading the first 18 laps before being overtaken by Denny Hamlin. The caution came out on lap 68 for rain and ten laps later the red flag was brought out and the cars were parked on pit road. With the rain intensifying and Dover Motor Speedway not having any floodlights, NASCAR postponed the continuation of the race until Monday at noon.

The NASCAR Track Drying team (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

When they got going again after pit stops, Kyle Larson would take the lead of the race for a few laps before a caution would come out for a spinning Austin Cindric who lost the back end of his car coming out of turn two and would make contact with the outside wall. His day ultimately ended due to the team going over the six minute repair vehicle damage policy on pit road.

Elliott would take over the lead from Larson on the restart and would hold the lead until there were 10 laps to go in stage one when Hamlin would pass him on the inside and go on to win the stage.

Chase Elliott (front), the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, and Denny Hamlin (behind), the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota, battling for position (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Hamlin would lose the lead during the stage break as Hamlin’s team made a costly mistake on pit road of not getting the lug nut on Hamlin’s left front tyre resulting in Hamlin having a race off pit road with his own tyre rolling alongside him and was consequently penalized and sent to the back of the field for the restart.

Stage two saw a roller-coaster of events. Ross Chastain would lead the first part of stage two before Kyle Larson spun in turn four and ended up backwards on the front straightaway, also blowing a tyre in the process.  Over halfway through stage two, with Chastain still leading, Kurt Busch would get tagged from behind by AJ Allmendinger out of turn two that would send him spinning on the back straightaway, making minor contact with the inside wall.

Kurt Busch, the No. 45 Monster Energy Toyota, spinning after the contact with AJ Allmendinger (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Under caution, Justin Haley, who had been legitimately been running inside the top five earlier in the stage, would stay out. A lap after the restart, Joey Logano would bring out the next caution after getting shoulder barged out of the way by Erik Jones heading into turn one, and ending up colliding with the turn one outside wall.

A few laps after the next restart, 2021 winner Bowman would relinquish the lead from Haley. With less than 40 to go Kyle Busch would take over the lead but a caution later inside of 15 to go saw his Joe Gibbs teammate Hamlin getting collected on the front straightaway by a spinning Cody Ware in front of him. Ryan Blaney would stay out on tyres when the rest of the field pitted and with three laps to go, was able to hold off Kyle Busch for the stage two win.

Ryan Blaney, the No. 12 Menards/Jack Links Ford, racing in the DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

In the final stage Kyle Busch would lead until the ill-timed caution sending him tumbling down the order. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would run inside the top five for the final stage and did so well as to bring home the No. 47 Frozen Farmer Chevrolet in second place, a huge day for JTG Daugherty Racing . He overtook Chastain for second place after Chastain had lost the lead to Elliott but was unable to get to Elliott, only closing the gap to 1.6 seconds within 30 to go after Elliott came upon lap traffic.

Kevin Harvick (front left), the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (front middle), the No. 47 Kroger/The Frozen Farmer Chevrolet, Christopher Bell (front right), the No. 20 DeWalt Toyota, Alex Bowman (back left), the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, and Justin Haley (back right), the No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet, racing in the DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

On the final lap, Ross Chastain find himself in trouble with Truex Jr., who he had been racing around for much of the race, when he came up to block him out of turn two. Truex Jr. made contact with Chastain’s rear before getting loose and spinning out, falling from fourth to 12th. On Chastain’s post-race interview with FOX’s Jamie Little, Chastain jokingly said “We were just talking about fishing there”.

Ross Chastain (left), the No. 1 Pitbull Tour 2022 Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr. (right), the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, racing side by side (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Full finishing order: (1st) Chase Elliott, (2nd) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., (3rd) Ross Chastain, (4th) Christopher Bell, (5th) Alex Bowman, (6th) Kyle Larson, (7th) Kyle Busch, (8th) Chris Buescher, (9th) Kevin Harvick, (10th) Erik Jones, (11th) Justin Haley, (12th) Martin Truex Jr., (13th) Chase Briscoe, (14th) Daniel Suárez, (15th) Cole Custer, (16th) Bubba Wallace, (17th) Michael McDowell, (18th) Corey Lajoie, (19th) Aric Almirola, (20th) Brad Keselowski, (21st) Denny Hamlin, (22nd) William Byron, (23rd) Austin Dillon, (24th) Harrison Burton, (25th) Ryan Preece, (26th) Ryan Blaney, (27th) Ty Dillon, (28th) Todd Gilliland, (29th) Joey Logano, (30th) Tyler Reddick, (31st) Kurt Busch, (32nd) Josh Bilicki, (33rd) AJ Allmendinger, (34th) Cody Ware, (35th) BJ McLeod, (36th) Austin Cindric.

Top 10 in points standings: 1st Chase Elliott (418), 2nd Ryan Blaney (368), 3rd William Byron (353), 4th Kyle Busch (353), 5th Alex Bowman (349), 6th Ross Chastain (338), 7th Martin Truex Jr. (336), 8th Kyle Larson (335), 9th Joey Logano (316), 10th Christopher Bell (284).

Featured Image: (Right) Chase Elliott, the No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet and (left) Ross Chastain, the No. 1 Pitbull Tour 2022 Chevrolet, dueling for the lead (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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