August 16, 2022

By Bob Pockras
FOX Sports Writer NASCAR

SONOMA, Calif. — Daniel SuarezThe fan club comes out in droves at the racetracks where the Mexican rider has a lot of fans.

Suarez gave over 300 of them something to cheer about on Sunday. And he screamed and cried.

The 30-year-old has led 47 of the last 50 laps, including the last 26 on the 1.99-mile road course at Sonoma Raceway, to earn his first Cup victory in his 195th start by becoming the first Mexican driver to to win. in NASCAR’s top series.

“I always dreamed of winning in the Cup Series,” Suarez said. “I knew it was going to be a tough journey.”

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Daniel Suárez emotional after his first Cup victory

Daniel Suárez emotional after his first Cup victory

Daniel Suárez is overwhelmed with emotion after earning his first career Cup Series victory in Sonoma.

Here are three takeaways from a historic Sunday in Sonoma.

The international appeal of Suarez

Suarez became just the fifth foreign-born driver to win a Cup race and the first since Australian Marcos Ambrose won in 2012. Other foreign-born drivers to win the Cup were Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia), Earl Ross (Canada) and Mario Andretti (Italy).

“My story is very similar to many, many Mexicans and Latinos who come to this country to try to find their dream,” said Suarez, who celebrated in part by smashing a chocolate-filled piñata down the straight. after the race.

“I was able to get there. … I’m just very, very proud to be an example to many.”

Suarez came to the United States 10 years ago, knowing no English, and he learned the language by watching cartoons. He said there were times when he thought about returning to Mexico.

“At the time, I was afraid that I couldn’t compete because I didn’t speak English,” he said. “I had no money to buy English lessons, so I had to learn on my own by watching movies, watching cartoons and reading.”

Perseverance wins

Suarez won the Xfinity Series championship in 2016 for Joe Gibbs Racing, then unexpectedly found himself in a Cup race after Carl Edwards abruptly pulled out of JGR in the offseason.

Suarez spent two years in the Cup with JGR and another two with Stewart-Haas Racing, winning four top 5 finishes with each organization – good but not enough to keep a race.

In 2021, after a season with underfunded Gaunt Brothers Racing, Suarez landed at new Trackhouse Racing, co-owned by driver Justin Marks and famed musician Pitbull. Trackhouse, now in its second year, had won twice this season with Ross Chastain and now has three victories.

“I’ve never met such a determined, focused and hardworking race driver in 20 years in the sport,” Marks said of Suarez.

“Every morning he wakes up and says, ‘I’m going to be the best version of myself that I can be today, and I’m going to do all the work I can do to win this race.’ It’s amazing how consistent he is, how that fire continues to burn so bright.”

Confidence came from being knocked down and getting back up.

“I come from a very modest family and every stage of my life has cost me dearly,” Suarez said. “It was important to remember that if I was able to come this far, I wasn’t going to give up here.

“My confidence was high. But obviously knowing you haven’t won yet, there’s a bit of doubt. But I knew I was fast. I knew I could race with the guys who were winning… Bad luck doesn’t last forever, but tough guys do.”

Daniel Suárez makes history and wins in Sonoma

Daniel Suárez makes history and wins in Sonoma

Daniel Suárez earns his first career Cup Series win and becomes the first Mexican-born winner in NASCAR’s top series.

Pit road mistakes cost contenders dearly

Kyle Larson was the early leader, but a wheel came off after a pit stop, not only ruining his day, but likely costing him his crew chief and two crew for four races.

Chase Elliott, who like Larson led 26 laps, overshot his pit stop, resulting in a penalty at the back of the pack from which he could not recover.

Kevin Harvick had a pit stop that took twice as long as he should have, ruining any chance he had of winning. He settled for fourth place.

“We didn’t finish where we should have,” Harvick said. “We’ve taken away all our chances. … We’re screwing up every week.”

Bob Pockrass has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 after stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpockrass. Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR newsletter with Bob Pockrass!

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