Daniel Suarez became the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, beating Chris Buescher in a historic win at Sonoma Raceway.
Suarez, a 30-year-old from Monterrey, finally earned the 195th start of a Cup Series career that began in 2017. He also drove his Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet to the team’s third series win of the season. rising. -old co-owned by ex-pilot Justin Marks and music star Pitbull.
Suarez passed Buescher and launched into the start of the final stage on this hilly circuit in Northern California’s wine country, persevering through a pit stop and warning to appear in front with 23 laps to go. Buescher pressed him aggressively, but Suarez made no serious mistakes as he rode to victory.
“It’s crazy,” Suarez said. “Right now, a lot of things are going through my mind. It was a tough race in the Cup Series, and these guys believed in me. I have many people to thank in Mexico. My family has never abandoned me. A lot of people did, but they didn’t. I’m glad we were able to make it work.”
Suarez’s team celebrated the end of the race wildly, even pulling out a taco-shaped piñata that Suarez had ordered for when he earned his first victory and secured a playoff spot.
“They believed in me from day one,” Suarez said of his team. “(We have) all the people and all the resources to make it happen.”
Suarez, who won the Xfinity Series championship in 2016, is the fifth foreign-born driver to win a Cup Series race. He joins Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, Australian Marcos Ambrose, Canadian Earl Ross and Italian-American Mario Andretti.
The success of Suarez and Trackhouse Racing could be a much-needed boost for a sport keen to expand its cultural footprint. After moving to the United States 11 years ago with a desire to compete on bigger stages, Suarez is a huge achievement for NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, which aims to bring fresh perspectives and new horizons to a largely monocultural organization for much of its history.
Michael McDowell finished third, his best result of the season, against Kevin Harvick in cloudy conditions in the first Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway at full capacity since before the coronavirus pandemic. The crowd included about 350 rowdy fans of Suarez’s program, Daniel’s Amigos, which allows kids from various NASCAR cities to watch races.