CHEVROLET NCS AT DAYTONA 500 MEDIA DAY – Daniel Suarez Media Availability Quotes

New season, what’s your mindset with the new year?

“This year, to me, feels similar to 2021. The reason is because 2020 was a very difficult year for me personally, and then 2021, we started with Trackhouse and it was like a fresh start. A lot of energy, a lot of hype and excitement heading into the year. This year feels that way and the reason is last year, we had a few spikes of good runs. We had a pole position, had a few top fives, but it wasn’t the year we were hoping for. We worked very hard in the offseason to make our team better. Maybe from the outside the team looks very similar, but from the inside, the team is different. I like what I’m seeing and I think we’re going to be able to move in the right direction with everything we have done.”

Is there any additional pressure on you with others in the pipeline at Trackhouse?

“No. There is always pressure, but I don’t have any extra pressure because of them. I know what I’m capable of and I know what we were lacking last year. I feel like as a group we made some adjustments to be better and we’re going to be fine. We have to be better. Good or average isn’t good enough. To be able to change that mindset to shoot to be great has to be an across-the-board mindset. In the offseason, we have worked very hard on that, and I can’t wait to see how it is reflected on track.”

How much influence did you have in choosing your crew chief?

“It was a little bit of influence, but really the team needed a change and they talked to me about different options. At the time, I didn’t know Matt Swiderski very well. He was one of the options. He wasn’t the only option. Last year, we were a good top-15 team. The last few races of the season, we finished 10th, 11th, eighth, but we were not good enough to win. I feel like the entire year, we only had winning cars probably twice, so to be able to win races you have to have winning cars more than twice to execute everything. We needed something different and the team way higher than myself decided that we needed to make a change in the leadership of the team.”

What will it take for Trackhouse to break through?

“There are a lot of young teams like Trackhouse that are getting stronger every year. I truly believe that this year Trackhouse is really going to be stronger than last year. I can’t wait to see that reflected on track and hopefully we can give them a run for the money.”

What did you do in the offseason to make Daniel Suarez stronger?

“Well, I did a lot of work with Matt Swiderski and the rest of the engineers in the simulator and analyzing myself what can I be better at. This is not just ‘we changed the crew chief’ that’s the solution. No, it has to be way more than that and I think we all need to change a few things here and there. Myself, crew chief, engineering department, pit crew department. With these changes, I believe we’ll be in a different place this year.”

Do you look at open-wheel and say maybe one day? Do you ever second-guess yourself?

“No, I never second guess and the reason is because I really wanted to be the first in NASCAR. Formula One is amazing but there is always politics in sports – some more than others. Here, in NASCAR, there is also politics. But Formula One is a different world. This is a little bit tricky. I’m extremely happy here in NASACAR. I feel like it was meant to be for me to be here in NASCAR and bring the Latino community more close to NASCAR and be successful here in NASCAR. Would I want to go to Formula One? I don’t think I would take it. My journey is to be here. I would love to try it because I’m a very curious guy, but I am right now where I want to be.”

Are there any venues you’d like to see added next year?

“I think Mexico City. I think that’s a no-brainer. You have to go to Mexico City, the heart of the country. The question to me is road course or oval. They have both options. I think that would be very special. There have been a lot of conversations about having a race in Mexico for a couple of years now, and I would tell you I would be the happiest person on this planet if that actually happens.”

You ran second in the second race at Atlanta last year. Drivers call that track a hybrid and why are you so good at it?

“I have good cars. I have good execution from my team, and it’s a lot about being patient. It’s a lot like here in Daytona. I think things have worked out a few times for us in Atlanta, and every time we go to a road course we are competitive. If you ask William Byron last year how many times he had a car capable of winning a race – 15, 18? – and he won six. I had a car capable of winning a race maybe three times last year. You have to have more shots than that because a winning car doesn’t mean you’re going to win the race. You still have to execute; it has to play out. If you want to win a couple of races, you have to have eight to 10 winning cars. So that is what we were lacking – consistency. One weekend we can show up to a racetrack and we were top five and the next weekend we were 20th. I feel like the 99 team is the most prepared it has been in years.”

Is the 1 and 99 working closely together?

“Last year, I would say we were working together a little, not a lot. I think that right now, we’re working together a little bit more. In reality, we’ll find out as we go. The 1 team has done a great job. They have a good driver, good engineering and they have a great crew chief. They have a great package. I feel like something the 99 team failed to do last year was learn from them. I was pushing them very hard. We have to learn from those guys. We failed a couple of times to do so. I think the relationships will bring the teams more together.”

Are you and Trackhouse in talks for an extension?

“I think it’s too early for that. My focus is on winning races and making my team competitive. That’s all I care about. If I take care of my thing and you take care of yours, things are going to work out. I have to focus on that. I cannot have my mind on an extension, what is going to happen in two years or whatever with my next contract. My mind has to be in performance. My mind has to be with the sponsors. How are we going to be able to make this team a winning team. That’s what I’m thinking right now.”

If NASCAR decides to go to Mexico next year, what would be your involvement?

“It would be a huge role – not just for me but for the whole NASCAR Mexico Series. I’m looking forward to it because it would be not only huge for myself but for the sport and the fans in Mexico. The sport is so good and so big to do more international stuff.”

Who was your favorite driver and what did you like about them?

“Jeff Gordon, I like a lot. When I started understanding the sport more, I became a huge fan of Tony Stewart. Then I started liking Jimmie Johnson a lot. I like his style; how smart he was and how calm he was. I thought if I like all these guys, why not make a combination of all these three, right? I always thought if I take this from him, that from him, I can build myself from that.”

Is now the right time to do the international race in Mexico City?

“In my opinion, we are making good steps in that direction. Maybe two years ago, I would have said we’re making baby steps. Right now, we are making good steps in that direction with the Chicago Street Race and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Right now, it doesn’t seem like a big move. We’re already doing a lot of big moves. I’m very excited with everything NASCAR is doing. I’m glad they are thinking outside the box to continue to grow the sport.”