Suarez opens up about COTA fine and the 'embarrassing circus'

Nigel Kinrade/Motorsport Images

Suarez opens up about COTA fine and the 'embarrassing circus'


Suarez opens up about COTA fine and the 'embarrassing circus'


Daniel Suarez did not expect NASCAR officials to fine him $50,000 earlier this week but understood their reaction while he also focused more on the actions of his fellow drivers that led to his frustration.

On the cooldown lap at Circuit of The Americas, Suarez went on the hunt for Trackhouse Racing teammate Ross Chastain and Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman. Suarez first knocked Chastain out of the way coming to pit road to get to Bowman and then repeatedly ran into the back of Bowman as a NASCAR official was directing the field.

Suarez was fined but not docked championship points.

“No, I was not expecting that just because we were running – based on SMT and stuff I saw – below 20 miles per hour,” Suarez said Saturday at Richmond Raceway. “It was very, very slow. And also, the No. 48 car (Bowman) was brake-checking me, so we were not going quick. There was one official there and that was wrong.

“I was not expecting anything, but it is what it is. NASCAR wants to send a message and it’s OK. I’m OK with that. It’s not right what I did, but I don’t think that anything else was going to happen. I wasn’t going to kill somebody like a lot of people thought. But it is what it is; I’ve already moved on from that.”

Suarez restarted fifth on the inside lane and was tagged from behind by Bowman, who Chastain had hit. The contact from Bowman sent Suarez into Martin Truex Jr., which spun Truex.

Compounding matters, Truex came to a stop after the spin right in front of Suarez. Doing so forced Suarez to stop and have to back up before rejoining the race.

“It is what it is,” Suarez said. “I’ve been trying to work on myself mostly during the week, try to clear my mind and reset about my team. I think the issue wasn’t really with one driver; I feel like it’s more as an industry, how we are allowing to have those bump and run restarts at the end of races and road course stuff. I don’t think that’s right.

“Unfortunately, I’ve been affected twice, both times running in the top five. That’s the frustrating part for me because we always run well in road course racing and then we get taken out by dumb driving from no one driver, but a lot of drivers. It’s something NASCAR is working hard to figure out, and hopefully, they can come to a solution.”

Suarez didn’t have an answer as to what NASCAR could do to avoid the carnage seen on late-race restarts at road courses. Some drivers spoke about single-file restarts, warning that if nothing changes, the same incidents will continue to happen at Indianapolis (where Turn 1 was an issue last year) as well as the Chicago street course, which drivers expect could see the course blocked during an incident because of how narrow it is.

“All I know is that NASCAR is working toward trying to make a better solution for some of these restarts because it doesn’t look right,” Suarez said. “The sport looks embarrassing in my mind and in the mind of many people. That’s not real to just go into the corner and bump three cars to push people out of the way. That’s not real, and we know that.

“But they do it because they know that’s how some people got top fives and top 10s last week and some of the guys that were fast, like me, we finished 27th. So, if NASCAR does something about it that’s amazing, and if they don’t, I just join the party, and I drive dumb into some of those restarts as well because that’s the way that it pays off better.”

Although frustrated and having made contact with Bowman and Chastain, there was no physical confrontation last weekend. Suarez hashed things out with Bowman on pit road and has mended fences with his teammate.

Chastain said the two are “brothers” at Trackhouse Racing but every family fights. Both seemed to have moved on from the incident.

“We worked it out on our way; we know what we did,” Suarez said. “It’s not the first time we’ve been in this position, and probably won’t be the last one. That’s part of racing. Both cars, on a consistent basis, we’re running in the top five, and we’re going to have situations like this. Sometimes I’m going to be unhappy with him, and sometimes he’s going to be unhappy with me. I don’t see it as a big deal when it comes to Trackhouse. There is not a story there.

“I think the big picture is the problem. What are we doing as a 40-driver group that is not right? Hopefully we can fix that. And like I said, if we don’t fix it, then the group of drivers that are not doing this kind of thing are just going to join the party, and we are going to make this embarrassing circus even bigger.”