Suarez, the first Mexican-born Cup Series winner, is competing in the non-points NASCAR Mexico invitational event held prior to Sunday’s Clash. Both series hit the temporary ¼-mile paved oval for the first time on Saturday.
At a Fox Sports news conference Friday at the Coliseum, Suarez said the importance of the Mexico’s series’ involvement this weekend could not be understated.
“If there was no NASCAR Mexico, there would be no Daniel Suarez in the Cup Series,” he said. “This is a big deal. Some people understand that. Some people don’t. But I do because I was part of that.
“This series is being put on a very big stage.”
Daniel Suarez, Trackhouse Racing, Freeway.com Chevrolet Camaro
Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images
It’s a stage the 32-year-old native of Monterrey, Mexico, is happy to share this weekend.
Suarez, who 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, has become synonymous with NASCAR’s diversity efforts in recent years.
But he also never stops seeking to challenge himself and always wants to improve.
After finishing a career-best 10th in the series standings in 2022 and winning his first Cup race, Suarez dropped 19th last year and failed to garner a win.
Although only an exhibition, Suarez said he is anxious to get back behind the wheel of his No. 99 Chevrolet to start the new season, which also includes the addition of new crew chief Matt Swiderski, former competition director at Kaulig Racing.
“Although we didn’t check off a lot of goals (last year), I’m extremely excited about the new year,” Suarez said. “We did a lot of work on the No. 99 in the offseason as you guys saw and I’m very excited to see where we’re at.
“I’m not going to say anything (too much) but I feel very good about it. I think all the work is going to pay off this year.”
Suarez said he has spent a lot of time with Swiderski since the crew chief change was announced.
“We’ve been working to understand each other. So far, I’ve been nothing but impressed. I think Matt is a very, very talented crew chief.”
Suarez has made no secret of his affinity for the kind of organization team co-owner Justin Marks was building when Suarez first arrived in 2021.
In its relatively short tenure, three drivers – Suarez, Ross Chastain and…