Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Daniel Suarez Could Get Momentum Back at Bristol
With back-to-back seventh place finishes, Daniel Suarez appeared to be headed the right course in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookie campaign. However, a crew chief switch has resulted in sub-par results the past two weeks – 31st at Martinsville and 18th at Texas.
Dave Rogers began 2017 calling the shots for Suarez after leading Carl Edwards to the Championship 4 last season. However, personal reasons resulted in a leave absence.
Joe Gibbs Racing elected Scott Graves to take his place, based on winning the past two NASCAR XFINITY Series Championships, including last year with Suarez. Graves also entered with limited Cup experience, leading Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to three top-10’s in 2013.
While recognizing Graves has talent, Suarez says it will take time for results to come.
“I have learned in the last couple months that in the Cup stuff it’s just a whole different level and it’s tougher,” Suarez said. “It takes more time. It takes more work, and it takes a lot more from you and Scott, you know, luckily, he has had this kind of experience in the past. This is nothing new for him, but in the last four years, five years, he hasn’t done anything in the Cup stuff, so he’s kind of like a little bit – he’s just not very used to everything that is going on in the rules and all these kind of things and to get used to everything,”
Suarez also recognized he has room to grow as a driver, knowing they need to be stronger throughout an entire event.
“I don’t feel like we have raced in the whole race very well, but we have closed the race good with a car that I felt like it was capable to do that, but not in the middle of the race,” he said. “So I had a lot of conversations with Dave (Rogers) with having the right car in the middle of the race to try to be there at the end, and that’s the only thing because at the end of the race, we had the car to do it and we were able to overcome. So I know that we can do it, we just have to work on our communication to get the car closer where I like, where I can be fast, and I feel like that’s going to be the best thing for me, and hopefully I can get to this point, as well, fast, with Scott.”
This weekend, though, could mark the right opportunity for a turnaround. JGR has won four of the last nine events at Bristol Moor Speedway, and Suarez posted three top-sixes in four XFINITY races.
As he has done throughout 2017, he will run both series this weekend, with Graves calling the shots in both.
“We’re heading to Bristol this weekend, and I couldn’t be more excited,” he said. “Bristol is such a fun place to race, and the atmosphere is always great when we get to town. Everyone is working really hard to bring fast Camry’s to the track each week, and I couldn’t be more proud of them. I’m looking forward to a great weekend and hopefully leaving Thunder Valley with a great finish for everyone involved.”
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