Daniel Suarez might have been the first loser when it came to the $1 million Monster Energy All-Star Race prize, but he did continue his recent hot streak.
Suarez again ran well in the non-points event, building confidence with another finish up front. His wave of momentum now includes three top-10 finishes in five weeks.
“The team has been doing a hell of a job in the last month and a half, two months, being competitive, racing up front,” Suarez said. “It’s been fun racing in the top five, top 10 more often.
“I feel like we are on the right track – we are on the right line to keep moving forward. But we have to keep working to try to get a little bit better. I feel like we are good, but we are not great yet. Hopefully, we can get there soon.”
Suarez almost got to victory lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The No. 19 was strong in the Monster Energy Open, which Suarez had to compete in for the second straight year in the hope of making it into the big show. And for the second consecutive year, he advanced into the All-Star Race by winning a segment.
Once in the All-Star Race, Suarez came from the back quickly to be a contender. Competitive no matter where he took his car or who he was racing around, Suarez never officially led a lap but did see the top spot. A caution late in the final stage set up one last restart and Suarez, lined up second on the inside, had Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin shoving him toward clean air.
Kevin Harvick just wasn’t to be denied, but Suarez chased him to the finish line.
“I want to thank my team and my pit crew, they did an amazing job,” Suarez said. “Every single stop we were gaining ground, moving to the front. And speed-wise, I feel like we had the car capable to win the race. But seemed like you needed to have the right helper behind you, the right pusher, a good push.
“And Denny, he did a hell of a job pushing me all the way to the center of [Turn] 1 and 2. He had some damage, maybe that’s why for whatever reason he disconnected. After that, it was tough because the 4 [Harvick] and 22 [Joey Logano], they were connected. A little unfortunate there, but we tried. We ran in the top five pretty much all night. That’s something definitely to be proud of.”