NASCAR Cup Series
Daniel Suarez on contract talks: 'Wouldn't trade Trackhouse for any other team'
NASCAR Cup Series

Daniel Suarez on contract talks: 'Wouldn't trade Trackhouse for any other team'

Published Jun. 6, 2024 10:41 a.m. ET

Daniel Suarez's breakthrough victory two years ago at Sonoma still ranks as one of the biggest NASCAR moments in recent years as he became the first Mexican driver to win a Cup Series race.

The Trackhouse Racing driver's second career win also was a historic one — as he won a three-wide photo finish over Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch earlier this year at Atlanta. He's in the playoffs but his season hasn't been great, as he sits 19th in the point standings with an average finish of 20th.

Suarez has driven for four different Cup teams in his eight seasons and is in his fourth year at Trackhouse. He has not signed yet for 2025 but as he said in this piece, he is confident he will get a deal done to stay with the organization.

Suarez sat down with FOX Sports last week at Gateway to discuss his big wins, his time at Trackhouse and his take on recent news of the closing of Stewart-Haas Racing (where he drove for a year) at the end of the season and Carl Edwards (whose abrupt retirement led to Suarez entering Cup a year earlier than expected) being selected into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.


Going back to Sonoma — two years since your big win there. What do you remember most about that and what that meant?

Definitely that win meant a lot. It really changed my career because it gets old when people start asking you, "Hey, when are you going to win? When are you going to win?" And finally getting the first one out of the way is very important, very relieving, not just for me but for the entire people that worked with me. It was definitely an important weekend for myself. With that being said, Sonoma, since before the win, has been always a place that is very special for me. Being in California, I got a lot of support from the Hispanic community there, from the Mexican community there. They really make me feel at home. To come back there with a shot and knowing that we're going to be competitive, it's always very special. It's always a weekend that I personally have a lot of fun not just on the track, but also off the track.

The second win came this year, obviously a very different finish. I don't know if one could mean more than another, but how would you say that one has impacted you?

I would say the first will always — every win is special, we could go win today and it's going to be very special — but they are different. The first will just be high up just for the energy, for the excitement, the first one is going to be the first one forever. The second one, I will say it was pretty cool because it's the first time that I have actually won a race without me knowing I won the race. So that part is very, very, hard to describe. But when you cross the start-finish line, you know if you finish first, second, fifth, eighth, you know. And that was the very first time in my life that I have won the race without knowing for a minute or two. So that uncertainty is pretty crazy, Not just that, but it wasn't versus one driver but it was versus two drivers. It was quite it was interesting, the feeling two minutes after we crossed the start-finish line [finally knowing I won].

Daniel Suarez explains what made each of his two career wins so special

How would you characterize your season since then?

It hasn't been the way I want it. I will say that we have tried a lot of new things in the 99 team the last two months. We've been up and down, extremely inconsistent. We have learned a lot — I feel like the data that we have gotten in the last eight weeks has been very, very helpful to understand where we are at — what works and what doesn't. I felt like "Squid," Matt Swiderski my crew chief [that came to the team this year], has learned a lot from the system at Trackhouse and has made a lot of adjustments. I feel that we are not a top-five team right now. But I think we are a top-15 team. We still have work to do to be able to make ourselves a consistent top-10 team and that's a goal. The goal is to hopefully in the next two months before the playoffs is we can grab some consistency and gain a rhythm before the playoffs.

Did you expect there to be a little bit of a learning curve for Squid coming from Kaulig just on how this team operates?

I expected it to be some of that. I did not expect it to be that big. I have had a lot of conversations with Squid on the differences in the process on the system that we have at Trackhouse. Honestly I've been quite shocked that everything is so different than the way he used to do before. It's been a process to get used to the system, to the process of doing things but I am telling you Squid is an extremely smart crew chief, probably one of the smartest crew chiefs in the Cup garage right now and I believe that we are slowly getting to a place where everyone knows how things work, and we're getting better and better even though the results  don't show that just yet.

I guess you feel like, considering your career, you have a home now?

For the very first time in my Cup career, I feel that way. I truly believe that. When I was at Gibbs, I was hoping that I was going to make my career at Gibbs and I was going to grow and be one of those drivers like Denny Hamlin, like Kyle Busch — those drivers who made a long career in one place. Unfortunately, it wasn't in the cards for me, and I was bouncing from team to team until now, finally, I found the place where they don't just believe in me, but also my voice has a weight and I'm able to make adjustments in my team and the organization based on what I see and what I feel. And they've been giving me the opportunity to be able to build the organization the way I think it should, especially the 99 team. I feel like I found a home. And that's why I wouldn't trade Trackhouse for anything else. Just because I've been in top organizations in the past, and if you don't have a voice, it's very difficult to be successful. I think I have that at Trackhouse. And we're still a young team, and I feel like the future is very bright for the 99 and for Trackhouse.

So you're still confident you'll get something done as far as a contract extension?

Yeah. I definitely think Trackhouse is the place to be. Honestly, today, I wouldn't trade Trackhouse for any other team. It doesn't matter if it's Gibbs, Hendrick, whatever, I wouldn't trade it. And the reason for that is for how the entire organization believe in each other and how they've given me the opportunity to grow the 99 team — those are things I didn't have in the past. That, to me, can be the difference between being a good team or a great team. I'm not saying that we're a great team just yet, but we have the potential to do it.

Daniel Suarez says he expects to sign a contract extension with Trackhouse

Do you think your experience impacted that ability for you here? You needed what you went through to be able to bring what you do to here?

I felt like every driver has a different journey. Some drivers have to learn things the hard way. Some other drivers, they have things with more support. A good example is Ty Gibbs. Ty Gibbs is great racecar driver, but I guarantee you that he gets a lot of attention — whatever he needs or whatever they need to adjust. And that what you need when you're starting up — to be able to learn and to be able to [have a team willing to] adjust [for you]. And if you don't have those things when you are in your first few years in Cup, you're going to struggle, you're going to struggle a lot. There is a lot of drivers like myself that maybe they haven't got the support that they need in the beginning. And there is some more drivers that have got that support. Chase Elliott is another example. He's been with Hendrick since Day 1, and obviously, they believe in him, and they have given him all the support to be able to build a great team around him. So once you find that, you have to stick with it. And I have found that at Trackhouse.

You have a couple of connections to some of the recent news, First Stewart-Haas, do you still have friends over there and what were your thoughts when you heard the news?

It's always a little bit sad when you see a big organization go down that quickly. Stewart-Haas, I wasn't there for a long time — I was there only for a year — but I've been in the NASCAR industry already for over 10 years. And I have gotten to know many, many people and I have received a lot of calls and a lot of texts from people or friends from Stewart-Haas that are looking for different opportunities, and I feel like my position is to just try to help as much as I can because they're great people, No. 1., and No. 2 because they want to continue to stay in the NASCAR world. And I feel like that's something very important. Stewart-Haas, I don't have any hard feelings with them. They gave me an opportunity very, very late in the game when Joe Gibbs told me that I wasn't going to be part of the plans, that was in October. They grabbed me very, very late. And for that, I will be forever thankful to Stewart-Haas for that one year.

Carl Edwards was elected to the Hall of Fame. So there's been a lot of talk about when he retired and the situation around that. His retiring is what propelled you to Cup to replace him. Did you have any flashbacks to his retirement moment when he was selected?

Carl is a special individual. I like Carl a lot. I will say that Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards were the two drivers that really gave me a hand when I was coming up. When I was in the truck series and Xfinity Series, it was Kyle Busch. He helped me a lot. Once I went to Cup, Carl Edwards was that guy that was helping me a lot. Obviously, he was already a little disconnected. He was kind of slowly going his way and he was still helping me just to get rolling. Carl's an amazing guy. He definitely deserves to be part of the Hall of Fame and honestly, I wish he comes back to race once in a while.

Daniel Suarez on Stewart-Haas Racing and replacing Carl Edwards

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including over 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass.


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