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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup

Suarez Hopes to Put Rough Saturday in Rearview

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If Daniel Suarez could, he’d probably forget how Saturday went for him at Phoenix Raceway.

It started in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice when he got loose and spun around. Fortunately, he was able to keep off the walls and not damage his No. 19 Arris Toyota Camry.

He wasn’t as lucky in the XFINITY Series DC Solar 200, though. His troubles began on Lap 7 when he got loose while three-wide, resulting in Jeremy Clements making contact with the rear-end of the No. 19 Juniper Networks Toyota. Clements recognized the contact on the radio, stating he “didn’t mean to get into him there, but come on – we’re three wide, and I need space to get into the corner.”

While Clements was able to continue and finish 19th, Saurez blew a tire five laps later and made substantial contact with the outside wall to end his race.

“I don’t really know what happened,” he said post-race. “I just know that I wasn’t racing yet. The 51 (Jeremy Clements) hit me in the right rear, and then I had a flat tire, and I hit the wall. Just a little disappointed at the way that those guys race back there. It’s way-way too early in the race to be racing like that. We have more than 150 laps to go, so it’s way-way too early.”

The rough stretch was certainly a surprise as typically, Phoenix has treated him well. Entering the weekend in his four previous XFINITY Series at the oval, he had yet to finish outside of the top-11.

“Overall, Phoenix is one of those places that doesn’t matter which series I’m going in, I feel very comfortable going,” he said entering the weekend. “It’s a place that I feel like I have maybe the most experience of the NASCAR racetracks that we go on this year, 2017. It’s always fun to come here and to race in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It will be very helpful to have that test over a month ago. Hopefully, we can put something that we learn for today’s practice, hopefully, be strong for Sunday.”

Suarez will get one more shot this weekend to do well as he starts 27th in Sunday’s Cup Series Camping World 500. With finishes of 29th, 21st and 20th in his first three Cup starts, allowing his confidence to grow with each start. While he feels they’re not close yet, they’re making progress.

“I don’t think we have showed the speed that we should, what we should have. But we’re making a lot of gains,” he said. “I’m hoping that sooner or later those gains are going to show up at the racetrack. I know that my team has big capacity to be strong and to be competitive. I know that I can do the job. We just have to work on the communication. I have to know more (about) Dave (Rogers) and my team. Dave has to know more myself, how I like to drive the racecar. I’m sure once we work on all these little details, we’re going to be fine.”

After Saturday, certainly, a top-15 finish would feel pretty good.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.