Rookie driver Daniel Suarez on the move in Xfinity Series
Richmond, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - Last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, 23- year-old Daniel Suarez became the highest-finishing Mexican driver in NASCAR Xfinity Series history with his second-place run.
On Friday night, Suarez will compete at Richmond International Raceway, where he made his series debut one year ago.
Joey Logano, a Sprint Cup Series regular, led all 300 laps in the Xfinity race at Bristol, but Suarez, who started ninth, patiently made his way through the field and moved into contention to win this event in the late going. He ended up finishing 1.2 seconds behind Logano.
Suarez is a rookie in Xfinity this season, driving the No. 18 Arris-sponsored Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. He is currently 10th in the series point standings, with two top-10 finishes in seven races. Suarez placed 10th at Las Vegas.
From 2011-14, Suarez competed in the NASCAR Mexico Series, scoring 10 wins and 34 top-10 finishes in 58 starts. He finished second in points in that series two years ago. Also in 2013, Suarez placed third in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East point standings, the highest finish for an international driver in series history. He has three victories to his credit in K&N Pro Series competition.
Suarez started 12th and finished 19th in last year's spring race at Richmond. He made one more Xfinity start during the 2014 season, finishing 15th in the September event at Chicagoland Speedway.
"We still have a lot of work to do," Suarez said. "Kyle Busch (JGR teammate) has been helping me a lot. I think everything that we've been doing since the end of 2014 is paying off slowly. I'm super happy with the performance (in last Saturday's race at Bristol). We were still a little bit off, but as a rookie, I try hard, and I believe we're on the right track."
Suarez admits that his move from NASCAR Mexico Series and K&N Pro Series competition to the Xfinity Series has been a big adjustment.
"Last year, I was just racing in the NASCAR Mexico Series, and that is Late Models, and I was racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, so it's a big jump and it's a lot to learn about the racetracks, about the race car and about the team," he said. "It's been a long year so far, learning about the team and spending a lot of time at the race shop."
Suarez, a graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program and a NASCAR Next alum, is presently second in the Xfinity rookie-of-the-year point standings, just four points behind leader Darrell Wallace Jr.
Series: NASCAR Xfinity. Date: Friday, April 24. Race: ToyotaCare 250. Site: Richmond International Raceway. Track: 0.75-mile oval. Start time: 7:30 p.m. ET. Laps: 250. Miles: 187.5. 2014 Winner: Kevin Harvick. Television: FOX Sports 1. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.