AVONDALE, Ariz.—Daniel Suarez didn’t know what to expect when he signed on with Trackhouse Racing for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.
The company’s beginnings were modest at best. Team owner Justin Marks rented space at Richard Childress Racing until a more suitable solution could be found. Three years later, the 31-year-old from Monterrey, Mexico, is off to the best start of his career with three consecutive top 10s in the first three races.
Producing strong results would inspire most drivers. For Suarez, the speed he feels behind the wheel of the No. 99 Chevrolet is ample motivation.
“What gives me confidence is the speed we have,” Suarez said. “We were fast the entire day (at Las Vegas). We just didn’t have the track position we needed. But we have speed, and that’s very promising.
“We need to continue to work on some things—clean things up here and there. And hopefully, we’ll be contending for wins very soon.”
With a little more consistency in qualifying, Suarez can remedy his track position concerns. In the Daytona 500 and last week at Las Vegas, he started 24th. Suarez rolled off seventh at Auto Club Speedway and secured his first top five of the year—a fourth-place result.
After having 50 minutes to practice on Friday, Suarez was 13th fastest on the speed chart. He picked up the pace in Saturday’s qualifying and will start 11th in the United Rentals 500.
“The car has way less grip,” Suarez said. “It’s almost like when you have new tires, it’s almost like you have 10-lap tires with the previous package. So the car is quite different. The main goal of this package was to make the racing better and make the car drive better in traffic.
“I don’t really know where we’re at when it comes to that because we haven’t raced with it yet. I guess we’re going to find that out (on Sunday). For sure, the car is more difficult to drive, and for sure we’re going to have to move around more. But to what extent, I don’t really know yet.”
In 12 Cup starts at Phoenix Raceway, Suarez has three top-10 finishes with a best result of seventh. Since joining Trackhouse, his average finish is 18.75. Will Suarez be able to maintain his top-10 streak after Sunday.
“I think that my car has another top 10 in it,” Suarez said. “We have worked really hard in Phoenix, just because it’s been a tough place to us in the last two years. Before that actually, I was pretty good here.
“We have worked very hard. We have put a lot of effort and time into this place, and I think that’s showing a little bit. We’re not quite there yet, but I think we’re moving in the right direction.”