Suarez to make 200th Cup career start at Pocono

Competing in his sixth full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series, Daniel Suarez is scheduled to achieve a milestone start. By taking the green flag in this weekend’s event at Pocono Raceway, the driver of the No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will achieve 200 career starts in NASCAR’s premier series.

A native of Monterrey, Mexico, Suarez made his Cup Series debut in the 59th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in February 2017. By then, he was the reigning Xfinity Series champion, where he became the first Latin American champion in NASCAR’s top three national touring series, and was promoted to the Cup circuit to pilot the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry for the new season when veteran Carl Edwards announced his sudden departure from the sport. 

Suarez’s rookie Cup season kicked off with a 29th-place result in the Daytona 500 after he was involved in a multi-car wreck midway into the event. He rebounded three races later by finishing seventh at Phoenix Raceway in March, which marked his first top-10 result in the Cup circuit. He then posted another seventh-place finish at Auto Club Speedway. 

Throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch, Suarez notched a strong third-place result at Watkins Glen International in August along with a total of nine top-10 results. He, however, did not make the 2017 Cup Playoffs, but he went on to post three top-10 results throughout the 10-race Playoff stretch. When the 2017 season concluded, Suarez capped off his rookie Cup season in 20th place in the final standings and behind Erik Jones for the Rookie-of-the-Year title.

Like his rookie season, Suarez’s sophomore Cup season started off with a wreck in the Daytona 500. Recording his first top-10 result of the season at Phoenix in March, Suarez earned a total of three top-five results and six top-10 results throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch. Among his highlights included a third-place result at Dover International Speedway in May, a runner-up result in the non-point All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway behind Kevin Harvick and a runner-up result at Pocono Raceway in August behind teammate Kyle Busch. By then, Suarez also achieved his first career pole at Pocono. While he did not make the Playoffs for a second consecutive season, he posted three top-10 results throughout the 10-race Playoff stretch before finishing 21st in the final standings.

Following two seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing, Suarez was replaced by Martin Truex Jr. for the 2019 Cup season. Suarez, though, announced a month prior to the new season that he will be joining forces with Stewart-Haas Racing to pilot the No. 41 Ford Mustang on a full-time basis. Despite finishing 33rd in the season-opening Daytona 500 in February due to a late multi-car wreck, Suarez achieved his first top-10 result with the team during the following weekend’s event at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Five races later, Suarez achieved a strong third-place result at Texas Motor Speedway in April followed by an eighth-place run at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch, Suarez notched a pole, three top-five results and nine top-10 results, which kept him in contention to make the 2019 Cup Playoffs. He, however, failed to make the Playoffs by four points over veteran Ryan Newman when the regular-season stretch capped off at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in September. Suarez went on to earn a ninth-place result at Richmond Raceway in September and a strong third-place run at Texas Motor Speedway in November before settling in 17th place in the final standings. By then, he surpassed 100 career starts in NASCAR’s premier series.

Despite a decent performance with SHR, Suarez was replaced by rookie Cole Custer for the 2020 season. Suarez, though, was able to secure a full-time ride with Gaunt Brothers Racing for the upcoming Cup season. His season, however, did not start off on a bright note after he wrecked in the first of two Daytona Duel events and failed to qualify for the 2020 Daytona 500. Suarez managed to qualify for the following Cup event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in February, but finished 30th following mechanical issues at the start of the race. Overall, Suarez earned three top-20 results before concluding the season in 31st place in the final standings.

Prior to the 2021 Cup season, Suarez joined forces with the newly formed Trackhouse Racing Team owned by former racer Justin Marks and rapper Pitbull as the team received technical support from Richard Childress Racing and a guaranteed charter to compete in all scheduled races. Driving the No. 99 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for the new team, Suarez was involved in an early multi-car wreck in the season-opening Daytona 500 and finished 36th. 

After finishing no higher than 15th during the following five races, Suarez rebounded at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Course by leading 58 of 253 laps and finishing in fourth place, thus achieving his first top-five result since 2019 and the first for Trackhouse Racing. Suarez, however, finished in the top 10 twice during the remaining 19 regular season events and was involved in a multi-car wreck on the final lap at Daytona while contending for the victory. The inconsistent stretch for Suarez prevented him from making the 2021 Cup Playoffs. For the remaining 10 scheduled events, he managed to finish as high as 10th at Texas in October before finishing in 25th place in the final standings. 

Suarez remained at Trackhouse Racing that expanded to field two cars in this year’s Cup season with Ross Chastain joining the organization. After earning four top-10 results and finishing no higher than fourth twice during the first 15 scheduled events, Suarez achieved his first victory in NASCAR’s premier series after claiming a dominant victory at Sonoma Raceway in June. In doing so, he became the fifth foreign-born competitor and the first from Mexico to win in the Cup Series.

Through 199 previous Cup starts, Suarez has achieved one victory, two poles, 13 top-five results, 44 top-10 results, 538 laps led and an average-finishing result of 19.2. He currently sits in 15th place in the regular season standings and is one of 14 current competitors to possess a spot in the 2022 Cup Series Playoffs based on winning once throughout the regular season stretch.

Suarez is primed to make his 200th Cup Series career start at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, July 24, with coverage to start at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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