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Daniel Suárez’s iconic Atlanta win “only the beginning”

Sunday’s win was only the second of his career, but it’s difficult to imagine Suárez could have a more memorable one – using a last-lap pass to win in a three-wide photo finish.

But as important as the win is – both to the progression of his racing career and an opportunity to win his first series championship – Suárez is by no means satisfied.

“My goal is not to win one race. I want to head into the playoffs with at least a handful – with a few wins to be able to contend for a championship,” he said.

“This is not relaxing here. This is only the beginning. We have to continue to work, continue to build.”

Race winner Daniel Suarez, Trackhouse Racing, Chevrolet Camaro

Race winner Daniel Suarez, Trackhouse Racing, Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Ben Earp / NKP / Motorsport Images

That determination has driven the 32-year-old native of Monterrey, Mexico, throughout his quest to race in NASCAR’s premier series.

Suárez debuted in NASCAR competition in Mexico in 2009 and became the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR national series race in 2016 with his Xfinity Series victory at Michigan.

For a while, his NASCAR future seemed on a fast track.

Suárez was among the first success stories to come out of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, and he went on to win the 2016 Xfinity championship with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Just as Suárez was about to embark on a second season in Xfinity, Carl Edwards abruptly left NASCAR, leaving JGR with a Cup ride to fill for the 2017 season. The organization tapped Suárez as Edwards’ replacement.

2016 Champion and race winner Daniel Suarez, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

2016 Champion and race winner Daniel Suarez, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Although there were plenty of flashes of potential, Suarez’s Cup career never seemed to get on solid footing until he joined Trackhouse Racing in 2021. He earned his first Cup win in 2022 but then failed to make the playoffs last season.

Again, Suárez went to work to do whatever was necessary to develop the consistent success he craved and knew was possible.

“I truly believe that the last few years with Trackhouse, we have had a great group of people working together,” he said. “We were able to win a year-and-a-half ago, and it was amazing.

“But the goal for me personally has never been to win a race a year, to win two races a year. The goal is bigger than that. I knew that to be able to get that, we needed to do something.”

A new crew chief

The biggest change came in the offseason addition of a new crew chief, Matt Swiderski, who had previously worked at Kaulig Racing.

Suárez and his No. 99 Chevrolet team had a strong run going in the season-opening Daytona 500 only to get caught up in a massive, 23-car wreck late in the race.

Then came Sunday’s race at Atlanta in which Suárez and his team had to rally from involvement in a multi-car wreck on lap 2 to get in contention for the win nearly three hours later.

“I feel that right now we are slowly making steps in the direction of where I want to be, where I want to go with this race team,” he said.

“We know that there is a few things that we could have done a little bit better (Sunday). We’ll learn from that, and we’ll continue to build.”

That relentless pursuit of improvement has been a defining characteristic of Suárez’s career and even his participation in one of NASCAR’s most famous finishes won’t change his approach.

“In the Cup Series every single driver is talented. Every single driver is gifted,” Suárez said. “So, you have to build a good team around you, and I’ve been very fortunate that Trackhouse believed in me since day one and they have supported me to build a team around me.

“I’m happy that we are secure in the playoffs, but to be able to win the championship, you won’t do it winning one or two races. You have to win at least a handful of races to create points, and that’s the goal for the No. 99.

“The goal for me with the No. 99 is for you guys not to be surprised when the No. 99 is in Victory Lane.”

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This article was originally published by a www.motorsport.com . Read the Original article here. .

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