By Joseph Wolkin
Breaking into NASCAR using the Drive for Diversity program, Daniel Suarez has been the latest driver to compete in the XFINITY Series. The Mexico native conquered the Rookie of the Year class, and is now headed into his sophomore season with Joe Gibbs Racing.
As Suarez looks to earn his first victory in the XFINITY Series, he will be working with Scott Graves. Graves, the reigning champion with Chris Buescher, looks to lead the No. 19 team (the old No. 18 crew and owner points) in a journey that brings Suarez to NASCAR’s premier level.
After a solid rookie season, what are you looking forward to this year?
“We had a good first season. We learned a lot of new things with the team, people and racetracks. Now, it’s different. Now, our expectations are higher. We know what to expect and we can go out and expect a little bit more out of ourselves. I think that is going to be the biggest difference from last year to this year.”
How closely are you going to be working with Erik Jones this year as you both battle for the title?
“We are going to work well together. I think it is definitely going to be really productive to have two full-time cars going for the championship on the team. I feel like it is going to be good for the whole organization.”
Which one of your Cup Series peers do you lean on the most to gain advice from?
“I think I [lean on] Kyle the most. I lean on Carl some. They’re the two that I go to the most when I need advice or have a question. I’ve had a lot of advice from all of them. They have a lot of experience and they’ve been doing this for a long time. It is always good to have advice and answers for what is going on the racetrack and out of the racetrack from someone like them.”
With the way Joe Gibbs Racing is structured presently, there is limited expansion space in the Cup Series. Are there any plans to get you in a Cup race this year?
“I don’t know. I think that is going to come at the right time. I feel like right now, we need to focus on the XFINITY Series. If we do our job in the XFINITY Series, the opportunity will come.”
Three Things About Daniel Suarez:
- Suarez hails from Mexico and is searching to become the first foreign-born NASCAR champion in one of the sport’s premier divisions.
- Along with competing full-time in the XFINITY Series, he ran 13 of 23 Camping World Truck Series events. Combined, he earned 15 top fives, 28 top 10s, 127 laps led and had an average finish of 10.45 in 46 races.
- Before coming to America full-time, Suarez won 10 NASCAR Mexico Series events. He finished runner-up in the championship standings in 2013 as he simultaneously competed for Rev Racing in the K&N Pro Series East.