Race Weekend Central

Daniel Suarez Posts First Top-10 Finish on a Road Course at Watkins Glen

While Joey Logano dominated the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International, leading 67 laps en route to his second victory in as many seasons at the track, Daniel Suarez was the best of the rest in terms of the XFINITY Series drivers.

Suarez paced the field for six circuits, the most of any other driver disregarding Logano. When his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch was involved in a nine-car crash on lap 19, the No. 19 team became the best team that could still compete with Team Penske.

“We had a top-five car,” Suarez said of his fourth-place effort. “I felt stronger with the first set of tires than the second set of tires. With the first set, I felt like we had a top three car and maybe have a shot at the win, but for some reason with the second set I never got the grip back. I never felt comfortable in the second part of the race.”

Suarez was coming off a 30th-place finish at Iowa last Saturday evening. With the fourth-place effort the No. 19 team gained three points on point’s leader Elliott Sadler.

Including Watkins Glen, three of the next four races will be held on road courses in the XFINITY Series. In 2015, Suarez’ rookie season in the XFINITY Series, he finished 11th at Mid-Ohio, his highest result at the three road course tracks. In this race a year ago, he

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade / NKP)
Daniel Suarez was the highest finishing XFINITY Series regular at Watkins Glen. (Photo: Nigel Kinrade / NKP)

started 12th and came home 15th.

“We definitely have confidence,” Suarez said of racing on road courses in two of the next three events. “I like road course racing. Last year, we had issues in every single one of them, but we were strong at all of them. I have a lot of fun racing at these tracks and hopefully we can get a checkered flag in the next couple.”

Last season, Regan Smith was victorious at Mid-Ohio, but Suarez was the highest finishing JGR driver. At Road America, he finished 24th after starting 10th. Paul Menard went on to win.

All three road courses are different in their own way. But for Suarez, he proved to himself that he can compete on the road courses.

“The team has been doing a really good job,” Suarez said. “I think we hit on something here for the road course races and hopefully we will be a little stronger for the next two.”

The 24-year-old Mexico native has been the highest finishing XFINITY Series regular in four of the 20 races this season, including his victory at Michigan in mid-June.

About the author

Dustin joined the Frontstretch team at the beginning of the 2016 season. 2020 marks his sixth full-time season covering the sport that he grew up loving. His dream was to one day be a NASCAR journalist, thus why he attended Ithaca College (Class of 2018) to earn a journalism degree. Since the ripe age of four, he knew he wanted to be a storyteller.

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