Sunday is Father’s Day, and Daniel Suárez, driver of the No. 96 CommScope Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing (GBR), will forever be grateful for the sacrifices made by his dad Alejandro that enabled him to reach the pinnacle of stock car racing as a NASCAR Cup Series driver.
His dad owned a modest car restoration shop in their hometown of Monterrey, Mexico, a place where Suárez helped out as a young child and developed a serious love for automobiles. When his dad bought him his first go-kart, Suárez caught the racing bug in a big way, and he began competing on a local and regional level in his native country at the age of 11, winning track championships from the start and also a pair of national karting titles. He then won races and championships as he advanced through the ranks of the Volks Sports Series and Mini-Stocks on his way to the NASCAR Mexico Series, where he enjoyed a successful four-year run.
Along the way, his dad recognized Suárez’s talent and wanted him to be able to make the most of it, so he sold the restoration shop, and later mortgaged the family home, to generate the funds to allow young Suárez to continue racing at the highest levels possible. He proved his racing mettle in the United States during a relatively rapid rise through the NASCAR ranks, springboarding his way to the elite Cup Series by winning the 2016 Xfinity Series championship. All the while, those sacrifices made by his father had stayed in the back of Suárez’s mind.
It was then Suárez was finally able to do something he’d been wanting to do for a long time – start a brand new restoration business for his father back in Monterrey to pay him back for all of his sacrifices through the years. On top of the race wins and championships, that is what truly makes Suárez happy.
His father is also who Suárez credits for teaching him a relentless work ethic – the constant determination to push to get things done and make things happen. Most recently, it’s that work ethic Suárez is banking on, in addition to his talent as a racecar driver, as he helps the one-car GBR Toyota team transition from a part-time to full-time Cup Series competitor for the first time in 2020. He and his teammates know it’s a long-term project that will take time and patience, but the racers inside them are champing at the bit to be successful each and every time they take to the track.
Their next chance comes Sunday afternoon when the Cup Series visits Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for the GEICO 500. It’s a track where Suárez scored five consecutive top-20 finishes before getting caught up in a multicar accident and then cutting a tire to end his day 20 laps before the finish last October while with Stewart-Haas Racing. His best Talladega Cup Series finish is 10th while with Joe Gibbs Racing in the fall 2018 race. In that race last October, Parker Kligerman drove the No. 96 GBR Toyota to a 15th-place finish, the team’s best in four Talladega outings as a part-time competitor.
Suárez and his CommScope Toyota team will be especially motivated to make the most of Sunday’s superspeedway race after their first weekend together at Talladega’s sister track Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway ended prematurely. An accident in Suárez’s Duel qualifying race knocked him and the team out of the Daytona 500 and got their season off to a disappointing start. But they’ve soldiered on ever since, scoring their first top-25 finish together in the season’s fourth race at Phoenix Raceway, adding another top-25 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in May, and scoring their first top-20 with an 18th-place run at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway three weekends ago.
With the team’s solid history at superspeedway events, and the unpredictable, “anything can happen at any time” nature of the races at Daytona and Talladega, Suárez and the CommScope Toyota team will hope to put themselves in position to score a solid finish come Sunday afternoon in Alabama.