After multiple close calls, Daniel Suarez finally earned his first career NASCAR XFINITY Series victory at Michigan International Raceway in his 48th start. And here’s the kicker – Suarez passed the best in the business to do it.
Suarez overcame an early speeding penalty and made his way around Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in the final lap to win Saturday’s Menards 250 Presented by Valvoline. The win is the first for Suarez in the XFINITY Series, as well as the first for a Mexican driver in NASCAR’s second series.
The win for Suarez comes at the expense of his teammate and occasional boss. Starting in the fifth position, Busch faded in the opening run, but inherited the lead on lap 32 following pit stops with a two-tire strategy as Suarez was hit with a speeding penalty.
From there on, two developing stories emerged. Busch led the way with ease through the middle section of the race, while Suarez fought his way through the field from 27th on the grid.
Suarez’s climb was a slow one, but he climbed through the field one pass at a time. On lap 62, Suarez was up to seventh. By lap 100, he had cracked the top five.
Suarez stalked Busch through the final 10 laps, closing a one-second gap down until, when the white flag flew, the Mexican driver had closed to Busch’s rear deck lid. Suarez dove under Busch going into turn one, cleared him coming off of turn two, and drove from there to the victory.
Busch settled in for second after leading a race-high 88 laps out of 125. Menard came home third, with Jones following in fourth in an emotional race. Jones announced just prior to the start of the event that his father, Dave Jones, passed away on Tuesday after a long battle with cancer.
The caution flag fell three times on the day – twice for debris, and once for a crash on a restart by Chris Cockrum.
Along with clinching a spot in the inaugural Chase for the XFINITY Series, Suarez increased his points lead to 18 points over Sadler as a result of the victory.
The XFINITY Series will return on June 19th for the American Ethanol E15 250 Presented by Enogen.