Purely from a racing standpoint, Daniel Suarez probably did not know the best way to really feel bopping round Nashville final week.
For a driver knocked out of the playoffs following the quarterfinal spherical and who completed tenth within the standings, it for certain was a stable 12 months. However Suarez noticed his teammate, Ross Chastain, make it to the championship spherical and end second general.
So he is aware of the instruments are there for him to thrive, and whereas he had one of the best season of his profession, he would possibly ponder whether he may have achieved much more.
“Ross did an excellent job this 12 months,” Suarez stated. “They put the bar in a great place. Ross and his workforce, on a constant foundation, they have been sturdy. We have been in all probability 70% [of the time] with them.
“Once we have been sturdy, we have been nearly as good as they have been. However one day trip of 5, we have been lacking it. We should proceed to work.”
Merely evaluating himself to Chastain can be just a little myopic contemplating the place Suarez has been. When he appears to be like on the previous offseasons he has endured, the game’s solely Mexican-born driver has to be ok with his place in NASCAR.
“It is a motivation, and I really feel like there are a whole lot of issues to have fun,” Suarez stated about Chastain’s end. “We did a great job as a workforce — a whole lot of good days, a whole lot of dangerous days as effectively that we now have to study from.
Stenhouse, Buescher, Suarez advance to All-Star with Open wins
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chris Buescher, Daniel Suarez advance to the All-Star with Open wins whereas Erik Jones received the Fan Vote.
“We are going to attempt to develop and to get higher. Within the first 12 months, I’d say, 80% of the individuals on my workforce have been new working collectively.”
That have was nothing new for Suarez. He came upon in September 2018 that he wouldn’t return to Joe Gibbs Racing for a 3rd season, and it wasn’t till January 2019 that Suarez was named driver of Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 41 cup automotive.
Then, in November 2019, SHR advised him he would not be again in 2020. Suarez scrambled for a trip, hooking up with Gaunt Brothers Racing, a part-time workforce that with the assistance of Toyota, opted to go the complete 12 months with Suarez. The workforce missed the Daytona 500 and struggled with Suarez ending thirty first within the standings.
Suarez discovered new life at Trackhouse Racing and had a good 12 months in 2021 because the group was embedded at Richard Childress Racing. Trackhouse co-owner Justin Marks purchased out Chip Ganassi Racing and expanded to 2 vehicles for 2022, placing Suarez in an optimistic however but nonetheless main transition a 12 months in the past as he got here off a 12 months the place he had 4 top-10s however nonetheless a median end exterior the top-20.
Final season lastly noticed Suarez get again into his groove after which some. He set career-bests of six top-5s (he had 4 in 2020) and 13 top-10s (he had 12 as a rookie in 2017). The most important second got here in June at Sonoma along with his first profession Cup victory. He grew to become the primary Mexican driver to win a Cup race, constructing on a historic resume that features a 2016 Xfinity Collection title for him to change into the primary Mexican driver to win a NASCAR nationwide collection championship.
“I do not pinch myself for the win [compared to] the place I used to be two years in the past,” Suarez stated. “I’d say 99 p.c of the individuals misplaced religion in me. … It was good to come back again and to verify that I can nonetheless be a winner and profitable on the Cup stage.
“That felt nice. I’m very, very glad for that. There have been so many positives from this 12 months. And I really feel like subsequent 12 months can solely get higher.”
Now Suarez will get to sit up for 2023 and know for probably the most half, every part stays the identical. So that’s the reason he moved round Nashville with optimism and possibly just a little extra of a smile on his face than a number of the different drivers on the NASCAR awards who remained annoyed they did not have the season they needed.
“I have been within the Cup Collection for six years, however most of these years has been a transition or some issues have been taking place – it hasn’t been constant for me,” Suarez stated.
“I have never been in a position to develop with my workforce. That is my first alternative I may take my workforce and make it higher for subsequent 12 months.”
It is also the primary alternative in a very long time the place Suarez can discuss to individuals within the offseason with a resume that exhibits his optimism is not based mostly on hope. He is aware of race followers puzzled if he may get the job accomplished on the observe.
“I’d name it credibility,” Suarez stated. “That is essential. Though I used to be fairly profitable within the Xfinity Collection, you are nearly as good as your final race.
“And when you did not do effectively this 12 months, it does not matter when you did superb final 12 months. Persons are going to overlook that. You will need to reinforce that and proceed to enhance the credibility.”
Whereas he loved his 2022 season, Suarez was glad to see it finish. He had not had a 12 months when he had made the playoffs, and he superior out of the primary spherical – which means he had six weeks of further on-track strain he did not have in previous years.
Plus, he’ll readily admit that when a driver goes to the observe pondering the possibilities to win are better, it takes a toll.
“That is the primary time I had the chance to struggle all the 12 months lengthy,” Suarez stated. “We had a handful of races we missed it by lots. … It was a constant struggle. So, truthfully, by the point, we obtained to Phoenix, I used to be exhausted.
“I actually wanted to take just a little little bit of a break and calm down my thoughts.”
Suarez additionally had one thing to sit up for — his offseason began off about as sturdy as one may with a visit abroad that included him proposing to girlfriend Julia Piquet.
“I had the ring with me for a couple of months, so I used to be prepared,” he stated with amusing. “I had the plan in thoughts. … I had a plan in thoughts on how every part was going to go and it went fairly near that.”
And his plan for subsequent season? He stated the idea of how sturdy his workforce will be, based mostly on his efficiency and that of Chastain, will change the outlook from the beginning.
“This 12 months, we exceeded many individuals’s expectations inside our workforce,” Suarez stated. “Now many individuals inside our workforce imagine that we belong to this commonplace. So I imagine — it will not be simple — however I feel we’re going to have the ability to put the bar on a better stage.
“I wish to win a couple of races and make the Championship 4. And I feel that’s sensible. … We now have potential to do superb issues.”
Considering Out Loud
When Christian Eckes was introduced as driving a truck for McAnally-Hilgemann Racing subsequent 12 months, it was just a little little bit of a shock since he appeared set to return to ThorSport Racing subsequent season.
However it seems ThorSport is able to swap to Ford and put Hailie Deegan in certainly one of its vehicles. The workforce has not introduced plans, indicating it’s nonetheless finalizing its 2023 lineup and producer.
Many ponder whether Deegan, who simply accomplished her second 12 months within the vehicles, remains to be a viable prospect. Her common end, driving for David Gilliland Racing, went from 20.9 her rookie season in 2021 to 22.1 this 12 months. Not good.
However she positioned thirteenth in her Xfinity debut at Las Vegas, displaying that there may nonetheless be potential that individuals noticed in her from 2018-2020 when she received three ARCA West races and in addition completed third within the ARCA nationwide collection standings. The shortage of any important apply at many tracks additionally makes one surprise if with simply extra observe time, she may excel.
If she does find yourself at ThorSport, nobody should surprise. The workforce has received races and championships in recent times. Whether or not she has a breakout 12 months in 2023 can be one of many collection’ largest storylines.
Have a query? Reply to this Twitter publish together with your query:
Listed below are this week’s questions and solutions:
May you see Zane Smith with SHR or FRM in 2024 if he stays with Ford?
Entrance Row Motorsports has Zane Smith beneath contract and if I will guess, he’ll drive a Cup automotive for that workforce in 2024. Now, that is not saying he positively will, however FRM seems to be grooming him for that function. And that would not be a foul factor for Smith to proceed to develop and never have as a lot strain as he would have if he goes to one of many greater Ford groups for a rookie season in Cup. That being stated, cash talks, and if there’s a sponsor on the market that wishes Smith, I may see him at any Ford workforce (Stewart-Haas, Wooden Brothers, Penske, Roush Fenway Keselowski). I do imagine Ford would do every part it could possibly to maintain him within the Ford camp.
Any phrase on Jeffrey Earnhardt’s plans for subsequent 12 months?
There are nonetheless a number of part-time and full-time rides open at Xfinity groups, and I imagine that’s the place Earnhardt’s focus is. He hasn’t made any bulletins and this stuff are typically fluid. Whereas he drove for Sam Hunt Racing and Emerling-Gase Motorsports in 2022, do not rule out different groups, comparable to Alpha Prime Racing, as a possible touchdown spot for Earnhardt.
They Stated It
“I’ve no regrets in terms of the errors that I’ve made as a result of it is made me who I’m. … It is actually not about profitable and shedding. It is about profitable and rising.”
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Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports activities. He has spent many years overlaying motorsports, together with the previous 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting Information, NASCAR Scene journal and The (Daytona Seaside) Information-Journal. Observe him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and join the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.
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