While three seasons with a race team might not seem like much, it’s been invaluable for Daniel Suarez and his development as a NASCAR Cup Series driver.
“I feel like with Trackhouse, I have grown a lot as a race car driver, as a person, and they have given me the opportunity to just continue to get better and to grow,” Suarez told RACER. “I’m very thankful for that. I think we have a great future ahead of us; I think we’re in a very good position, and I can’t wait to continue to grow my race team and get more wins together.”
An Xfinity Series champion, Suarez was moved into the Cup Series earlier than anticipated. And perhaps before he was ready to be thrust into the big leagues. Suarez ran with Joe Gibbs Racing for two years before moving to Stewart-Haas Racing for a season. Then came a disastrous year with Gaunt Brothers Racing in 2020 where he missed the season-opening Daytona 500 as the underfunded team attempted its first full season in the Cup Series.
But when Justin Marks founded his team, Suarez became the flagship driver. Marks has been all in on Suarez since the beginning, believing the best hadn’t shown from the Monterrey, Mexico, native.
Having the belief of the team behind you has been a game-changer for Suarez.
“It’s huge to know the team has your back, and regardless of what happens in the weekend, you’re all going to continue to work to get better,” Suarez said. “It’s pretty special. I haven’t had that in the past, really.
“I have had it to an extent, but never like I have with Trackhouse, and I feel very fortunate to be in this position. I truly feel that we have something great going on here.”
Suarez’s team is led by crew chief Travis Mack, who became a full-time Cup Series crew chief when joining Trackhouse Racing. Mack, who also had something to prove, joined the organization from JR Motorsports. What Mack and the rest of the No. 99 team do Suarez that is different is simple.
“They listen to me,” Suarez said. “I think that’s huge. They really listen to me if I tell them that I need this or we have to make an adjustment or we’re struggling. It’s important.
“And if I tell them that, for instance, we are struggling on pit road, we’re going to put a lot of work to be better on pit road. I feel like, in the past, it wasn’t the same. I feel like they have allowed me to make my racing better and that’s very special.”
The confidence to speak up has also helped Suarez become a better leader. After getting their footing underneath them in 2021, Suarez and Trackhouse Racing took a step forward in 2022 as both drivers – Suarez and Ross Chastain – won races and made the playoffs. It was a career year for Suarez, who improved in nearly every statistical category (win, top fives, top 10s, laps led, championship finish).
“I’m an extrovert, so I’m always trying to make things better,” Suarez said. “Not just for me but for my entire team, and Trackhouse has allowed me to use that to our advantage instead of just wasting it.”
The sudden career turnaround at Trackhouse Racing has also brought a different mindset. Suarez shows up every weekend knowing he and his race team can win races.
“That’s a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun to be in that position and I feel very fortunate. I have worked for years to put myself in that position where you have one of the best pit crews, one of the best engineers and one of the best crew chiefs. You have some of the best mechanics. It’s not easy to build a group like this, and today, I can say that I have it almost every weekend, and that’s a lot of fun.”