A significant milestone is in the making for Daniel Suarez, the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion and driver of the No. 96 Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season. By taking the green flag in this weekend’s Cup Series event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course for the Bank of America Roval 400, Suarez will reach 250 starts across NASCAR’s three major division series.
A native from Monterrey, Mexico, Suarez’s racing career started with karts, where he won two national karting championships in 2004 and 2008. He went on to compete and win races in mini-stock cars, a support series of the NASCAR Peak Mexico Series in 2008. Suarez’s early racing success led him to compete in the NASCAR Mexico Series in 2010, where he claimed the series Rookie-of-the-Year title and went on to achieve an abundant of on-track success and wins in the series along with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East through 2013 while alternating between racing in Mexico and the United States of America.
Following the 2013 season, Suarez achieved a total of five victories in the NASCAR Mexico Series with a best result of second place in 2012. He had also completed his first full-time season in the K&N Pro Series East with Rev Racing, where he achieved his first win at Ohio’s Columbus Motor Speedway before he concluded the season in third place in the final standings and all while being a NASCAR Drive for Diversity and Next member.
Suarez started the 2014 racing season by winning the first two K&N Pro Series East races of the season, the first at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway before backing it with a win at the UNOH Battle at the Beach around Daytona International Speedway’s mini oval backstretch course. He went on to record a total of four top-five results and seven top-10 results in 13 starts in the East Series. He also made his ARCA Racing Series at Kentucky Speedway with Venturini Motorsports in September, where he started third and finished fifth.
Two months after winning the UNOH Battle at the Beach, Suarez was selected by Joe Gibbs Racing to drive the No. 20 Toyota Camry for the NASCAR Xfinity Series spring event at Richmond Raceway. Starting in 12th place, Suarez went on to finish in 19th place in his series debut. He made his second series start at Chicagoland Speedway in September. Driving the No. 29 ARRIS Toyota for RAB Racing, Suarez started 18th and notched a 15th-place result. He also made his NASCAR Truck Series debut at Talladega Superspeedway in October, where he started 17th and finished 15th while driving the No. 35 ARRIS Toyota Tundra for Win-Tron Racing.
Four months after making his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Richmond, Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Suarez will be competing in the series on a full-time basis in 2015. Driving the No. 18 ARRIS Toyota Camry led by crew chief Eric Phillips, Suarez recorded three poles, two Dash 4 Cash bonuses, eight top-five results, 18 top-10 results and an average result of 11.7 before he finished in fifth place in the final standings. He ended up claiming the Rookie-of-the-Year title over Bubba Wallace by virtue of one additional top-10 result. As a result, Suarez became the first Mexican and second Drive for Diversity competitor to achieve a rookie title in any of NASCAR’s three major division series. He also made 13 starts in the NASCAR Truck Series with Kyle Busch Motorsports, where he achieved seven top-five results and 10 top-10 results. He also made four starts in the ARCA Series with Venturini Motorsports, where he recorded one pole, one top-five result and two top-10 results.
Suarez remained as a full-time competitor in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with Joe Gibbs Racing, piloting the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry, and as a part-time competitor in the NASCAR Truck Series with Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2016. In 13 Truck starts, Suarez achieved his first career win at Phoenix Raceway in November and he also achieved one pole, three top-five results and six top-10 results. In the Xfinity Series and paired with crew chief Scott Graves, Suarez recorded 18 top-five results and 26 top-10 results through 32 of the 33-race schedule. By then, he also achieved his first two Xfinity career wins, the first at Michigan International Speedway in June and the second at Dover International Speedway during the inaugural Xfinity Playoffs in October. With his first win at Michigan, he became the first Mexican-born competitor to win within NASCAR’s three major division series. Suarez, ultimately, entered the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November as one of four competitors contending for the championship. During the finale, Suarez led a race-high 133 of 200 laps and went on to beat Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier and teammate Erik Jones in a two-lap shootout to win the finale and the 2016 Xfinity championship. With his accomplishment, Suarez became the first foreign-born/Latin American competitor to win a championship within NASCAR’s three major division series and he recorded the second Xfinity drivers’ title for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Following the sudden departure of Carl Edwards, Suarez was named a full-time competitor of the No. 19 ARRIS/Stanley Tools/Subway Toyota Camry for JGR for the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season, marking Suarez’s first opportunity in competing in NASCAR’s premier series. Suarez made his Daytona 500 debut in February, where he finished 29th after crashing out in the second half of the season. Three races later, he achieved his first top-10 result in the series by finishing in seventh place at Phoenix in March. He went on to achieve 11 additional top-10 results and a best result of third place at Watkins Glen International in August, where he also won a stage, for the remainder of the season. He also won the Monster Energy Open preliminary race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, where he transferred to his first All-Star Race appearance and went on to finish in 15th place of the 20-car field. When the season concluded, he finished in 20th place in the final standings and he ended up finishing in second place in the Cup Rookie-of-the-Year standings behind Erik Jones. Throughout the 2017 season, Suarez also made 14 starts in the Xfinity Series for JGR, where he achieved five top-five results and eight top-10 results. Following the 2017 season, Suarez surpassed 100 starts across NASCAR’s three major division series.
Suarez remained as driver of the No. 19 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2018. Throughout his sophomore season in the Cup Series, he achieved his first career pole position at Pocono Raceway in July and he went on to achieve a career-best second-place result during the main event following a late battle with teammate Kyle Busch. Another bright moment of Suarez’s 2018 Cup season occurred at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, where he won the second stage of the Monster Energy Open preliminary event, transferred to his second consecutive All-Star Race appearance and settled in second place following a late battle with Kevin Harvick. Suarez also achieved a total of 12 top-10 results and he concluded the season in 21st place in the final standings. He also made two Xfinity Series with JGR, where he finished in the top 10 in both races. Following the 2018 season, however, Suarez was released from JGR in favor of Martin Truex Jr.
A month before the 2019 season started, Suarez was named driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/ARRIS Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series season led by Billy Scott. He started the season on a low note by racking up his third consecutive DNF in the Daytona 500 after being involved in a late multi-car wreck. He rallied the following race at Atlanta Motor Speedway by finishing in 10th place. Four races later and following a three-race stretch of finishing no higher than 13th, he finished 10th at Martinsville before he recorded a strong third-place result at Texas Motor Speedway in April. Throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch, Suarez achieved nine top-10 results and one pole position. His late consistent surge on the track was not enough, however, to make the 2019 Cup Playoffs after he finished in 11th place in the regular-season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and being beaten by Ryan Newman for the final spot to the Playoffs. It marked the third consecutive season where Suarez failed to make the Cup Playoff field as he has yet to do so. Nonetheless, he went on to achieve two additional top-10 results and finish the season in 17th place in the final standings. By then, he surpassed 200 starts across NASCAR’s three major division series. Despite a productive junior season in the Cup circuit, Suarez was released from SHR in favor of Cole Custer.
A month before the 2020 season started, Suarez joined forces with Gaunt Brothers Racing to drive the 96 Toyota Camry in the NASCAR Cup Series season. He started this season on a low note when he crashed out in the second Duel race at Daytona International Speedway in February and failed to make the Daytona 500. His first start with GBR was at Las Vegas Motor Speedway the following week, where he finished 30th after encountering mechanical issues at the start of the race.
Through 30 starts this season, Suarez has finished no higher than 18th place, which occurred twice at Bristol Motor Speedway in May and at Kansas Speedway in July. His average result is 26.4 and he is ranked in 31st place in the standings. While he has yet to achieve his first Cup Series win, he is set to drive for the newly formed Trackhouse Entertainment Group and in the No. 99 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE in 2021.
Catch Suarez’s milestone start in the Bank of America Roval 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course on Sunday, October 11, at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.