GAS N’ GO: Kyle Busch’s School of Charm
BROOKLYN, Mich. – Daniel Suarez finally put his name on the list of first-time winners in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Saturday, passing teammate Kyle Busch coming to the white flag to win the Menards 250 at Michigan International Speedway.
Feels Like the First Time
Suarez experienced an up-and-down afternoon in the Irish Hills. During a round of pit stops, the driver of the No. 19 Arris Toyota was caught speeding on pit road, taking him from the lead to 25th at lap 29. By Lap 45, Suarez had driven all the way to ninth place, and appeared to have one of the fastest cars on track.
With 13 to go, Suarez made a three-wide pass of Paul Menard and Elliott Sadler to slide into the second position. From there, he began to cut into teammate Kyle Busch’s lead. With the pair racing off Turn 4 to take the white flag, the second-year Xfinity driver made his move, diving to the inside of Busch and taking the lead.
With the win, Suarez became the first Mexican-born driver to win any national level NASCAR race, and just the sixth foreign-born driver to win in the Xfinity Series. Saturday’s race was Suarez’s 48th Xfinity Series start and 67th start in one of NASCAR’s top three series.
Racing With a Heavy Heart
It was a bittersweet day for Joe Gibbs Racing. While Suarez celebrated the biggest day of his career, Erik Jones mourned the loss of his father. Dave Jones died Tuesday after a bout with cancer, which was revealed after Jones’ win at Bristol earlier this season.
Before the race, Erik replaced his name above the door of his No. 20 Toyota with his father’s name. Erik also penned an emotional letter to his father, which he tweeted just minutes before the start of Saturday’s race.
To confirm – my father did pass away on Tuesday. Take it to the limit Papa Bear pic.twitter.com/IsCybrHWH4
— Erik Jones (@erik_jones) June 11, 2016
Jones came home in fourth place, an incredible effort given the circumstances he was facing.
In only his third Xfinity start of the season, Alex Bowman snapped Joe Gibbs Racing’s 10-race streak by earning the pole in the JR Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro. With sponsorship from Vannoy Construction, Bowman led 11 laps Saturday en route to a seventh-place finish.
Bowman was originally scheduled to make nine starts in the No. 88 for JRM this year. Through three races, the Tucson, Arizona native has made the most of his time in the car. At Dover, Bowman led 33 laps and finished third before a top ten at rain-shortened Pocono.
If Bowman’s performance continues to live up to the early standard, it will only be a matter of time before more sponsorship is found.
Kyle Busch dominated Saturday’s race, leading 88 laps in the No. 18 NOS Energy Toyota. After the race, Busch showed a side of himself rarely seen after he comes up short by cracking a few jokes.
During his post-race interview with Fox Sports, Busch said “You never want to get beat, but it’s cool when you get beat fair and square.” Busch congratulated Suarez, who he called a graduate of the “Kyle Busch School of Charm.”
Busch was also asked about his team winning Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race with 18-year-old William Byron, and if he was surprised his success. Busch’s reply? “No, look at their teacher.”
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