Asked at Chicagoland Speedway how his team is approaching trying to make the playoffs over the next couple of weeks, Daniel Suarez was both quick and confident in his response.
“I don’t really know but we’re going to make it. I will tell you that,” said the sophomore from Joe Gibbs Racing. “Somehow, we are going to work very hard like we’ve been doing. It’s a real shame that we haven’t showed the results we deserved because the speed has been there. We have shown the ability to finish in the top 10 every race.
“I don’t know what I am doing wrong. Maybe some of the stuff, it needs a little bit of luck, but I don’t believe in luck 100 percent. We’re going to be fine. Maybe in a month, we’re going to be in a different position.”
With the Overton’s 400 (Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) there are just 10 races left in the regular season. The 16-driver playoff field will officially be set with the conclusion of the Brickyard 400 on September 9, and as of right now Suarez is not a part of it.
Suarez is 19th on the playoff grid and below the cutoff by 73 points.
The results Suarez spoke of include a current streak of five finishes of 15th or worse. Suarez has not finished inside the top 10 since a three-race stretch in late April/early May when he finished 10th at Richmond and Talladega and then third at Dover. The Dover result has thus far been Suarez’s season best.
Pressed about his outlook and whether he felt he could win one of the next 10 races or race his way into the postseason on points, Suarez said it’s “very doable” on points.
“I think if we have the speed to go out there and win a race, we will take that chance,” he said. “But if [we] don’t and have to finish top five or top 10, we’re going to be consistent and play that way — winning the stage points and stuff like that.
“I mean, 70 points in 10 races is not a lot. It’s doable but you have to race smart, and a lot of people freak out a little bit. I am not one of those. I have to stay calm. We will be fine.”
Suarez finished 12th last season in his first Cup race at Chicagoland.