June 12, 2022:  #99: Daniel Suarez, TrackHouse Racing, Onx Homes / Renu Chevrolet Camaro celebrates winning the Toyota/Save Mart 350  the Sonoma Raceway.  (HHP/Tom Copeland)
Daniel Suarez won his first career NASCAR Cup win in his 195th start. (HHP/Tom Copeland)

Daniel Suarez Claims First NASCAR Cup Win

There was only one green flag pass for the lead in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

On a restart with 49 laps to go, it was the pass that eventually delivered Daniel Suarez his first career Cup Series win, six years and 195 starts after it began.

The 30-year-old Suarez led 47 of 110 laps and beat Chris Buescher by 3.8 seconds to claim the victory in the Toyota / Save Mart 350.

It was Buescher who Suarez overtook on that restart, before having to hold off Buescher over the final 40 or so laps, which were broken up by a caution on Lap 84.

June 12, 2022:  #99: Daniel Suarez, TrackHouse Racing, Onx Homes / Renu Chevrolet Camaro celebrates winning the Toyota/Save Mart 350  the Sonoma Raceway.  (HHP/Tom Copeland)
Daniel Suarez celebrates his first NASCAR Cup win.  (HHP/Tom Copeland)

When Suarez and his No. 99 Team Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet took the checkered flag, Suarez became the first Mexican-born driver to win the NASCAR Cup Series and just the fifth foreign driver to win. Suarez is the fourth different first-time winner this season.

During his cool down lap, the only thing an elated Suarez said over his team radio was “F— yeah!”

It was clearly an emotional moment for someone who hadn’t won a NASCAR race since his claimed the 2016 Xfinity Series championship.

“It’s crazy,” Suarez said. “I have so many thoughts in my head right now. I mean, it’s been a rough road. It’s been a rough journey in the Cup Series.

“These guys believe in me, Trackhouse Racing, (team owner) Justin Marks, Ty Norris. Everyone that helped me to get in this point. I lot of people in Mexico: Jay Morales, Carlos Slim. My family, they never give up on me. A lot of people did, but they didn’t.”

Suarez had to compose himself a bit as he continued.

“Just very happy we were able to make it work.”

Click here for the race results.

Suarez’ wins comes in his second season with Trackhouse. The team co-owned by Marks and pop start Pitbull is the fourth team Suarez has called home in his Cup Series tenure. While Trackhouse has already won twice this season with Ross Chastain, this is the first win for the team’s flagship car.

“They believed in me since Day 1,” Suarez said. “They believe in me. All the people, all the resources to make it happen.”

Suárez joins Juan Pablo Montoya as the second driver to win his first career NASCAR Cup race at Sonoma.

Marks said Suarez’ win was “difficult to put into words.

“Daniel Suarez and (crew chief) Travis Mack helped to build Trackhouse and they’ve been working so hard together. They’ve been so focused so dedicated trying to get into victory lane.”

For Buescher, it was his best finish in a Cup points race since his own first Cup win in 2016 at Pocono Raceway.

Buescher was in the top 10 the entire day and had his shot at a win preserved after a pit penalty on the Stage 2 pit stop was rescinded.

“I’m just disappointed in myself,” Buescher said. “Didn’t get the job done there. Apologize to these guys because they put an awesome Fifth/3rd Bank Mustang underneath me this weekend. Heck of a return. We had a lot of speed. Just struggled for a little bit of long-run speed, wearing rear (tires) out. Just didn’t get it done when it counted.

“It’s an awesome run. Awesome recovery from COTA, what we had there. Everybody back at RFK is doing a great job. Hurts to be that close, but congratulations to Suarez. We were trying, trying to get him. Ran out of steam there.”

Finishing third was Front Motorsports’ Michael McDowell. It matched his best finish since he claimed his first Cup win in the 2021 Daytona 500. He also finished third at Talladega late last year.

Sunday also marked McDowell’s best finish on a road course in the Cup Series and his first top five on a non-superspeedway track.

“We just fired off a little on the slow side, but we were really good on the long run,” McDowell said. “We started to reel the leaders in there the last five laps but it just took a little too long to get going. I am proud of the entire team. This was a really solid weekend for our Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang. You have to run second, third, fourth, and fifth consistently to put yourself in a position to win a race and we were close today. We just needed a little more on the front end to challenge. I am really proud of everybody’s effort. We are getting closer. We are doing it week in and week out so I am really proud of everybody.”

Finishing out the top five were Kevin Harvick and Austin Cindric.

June 11, 2022: #99: Daniel Suarez, TrackHouse Racing, Onx Homes / Renu Chevrolet Camaroat Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, CA.(HHP/Harold Hinson)
Daniel Suarez is the fourth first-time NASCAR Cup winner this season. (HHP/Harold Hinson)
(HHP/Harold Hinson)

The race went caution free until Lap 10. That’s when the engine on Bubba Wallace’s No. 23 Toyota expired and Wallace came to a stop in the area near Turn 4.

“Never had an over rev, never went the wrong way, it just blew,” Wallace told Fox Sports 1.

The top five was basically unchanged from the start, with pole-sitter Kyle Larson leading Chase Elliott, McDowell, Buescher and Suarez.

Kyle Busch, AJ Allmendinger, Christopher Bell and William Byron were among the teams that elected to pit during the caution.

The race went back under green with 12 laps left in the first stage.

Two laps into the run, Erik Jones spun off course on own off Turn 2 before continuing.

While Larson raced out to a three-second lead, Buescher took third on the restart and then got around Elliott for second in Turn 7 with four laps left in the stage.

With three to go, a large group of drivers headed to pit road, including Buescher and Elliott. Larson stayed out and won the stage, only his second of the year.

The top 10 after 25 laps: Larson, Logano, Kyle Busch, Justin Haley, Aric Almirola, Harrison Burton, Josh Bilicki, Kurt Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Cody Ware.

Of the drivers who pit during the break, Kyle Busch was first off ahead of Larson.

On the Stage 2 restart Elliott was first, ahead of Buescher, Reddick, Chastain and McDowell.

By Lap 34, six laps into the run, Larson had used his fresher tires climb up to 18th. On Lap 40, Larson passed Joey Hand to enter the top 15.

With about nine laps left in the stage, Jones spun while trying to pass Kurt Busch in Turn 7. A few moments later, Ross Chastain, who had been in fourth, spun in the same corner while trying to pass Suarez. Chastain fell to seventh.

Pit stops began with three laps left in the stage.

During the stops Elliott was penalized for pitting outside his box. Reddick was caught speeding. Buescher was initially penalized after NASCAR said the crew threw its pit can back over the wall. But after video was reviewed, the penalty was rescinded.

Joey Logano stayed out and claimed the stage win.

The top 10 after 55 laps (and after the penalty to Elliott): Logano, Almirola, Suarez, Harvick, Gilliland, Burton, McDowell, Stenhouse, Blaney and Keselowski.

When the final stage went under green, Buescher had the initial lead over Suarez, McDowell and Harvick.

Suarez took the lead on the restart as Buescher dropped to fourth. Buescher would climb back to second by 40 laps to go, as Suarez continued to lead the way.

The final round of scheduled pit stops began to cycle with about 35 laps left in the race.

Buescher and Harvick were the first among the leaders to pit with 30 to go. Harvick had a slow stop due to his car having to be jacked back up as the crew changed left-side tires.

Suarez finally pit with 29 laps to go, giving the lead to Keselowski. It was his first laps led since Las Vegas.

One lap later the caution returned for just the second time when Larson lost his right-front wheel following his pit stop.

 

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