Race Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-40):
● Started 37th, finished 31st.
● From his 37th starting position, Suárez was up to 33rd by the end of the opening lap and held that position until the lap-15 competition caution. He reported his No. 96 Toyota Camry was super free at the start of the run, pretty loose throughout, but that it was gradually coming to him yet still a long way off. He pitted for tires, fuel, air pressure adjustments to both rears and the right front, and a huge track bar adjustment. He was 28th when the race went back to green on lap 19.
● Suárez was 31st when the caution flag flew to end the stage. He said the previous changes helped but that he needed more of the same. He pitted during the break for adjustments to the track bar and wedge, as well as right-rear air pressure, and packer removed from the right front.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 41-85):
● Started 29th, finished 28th.
● The stage went green from start to finish.
● Suárez took the green flag 28th on lap 47, dropped back to 30th throughout the middle portion of the stage, and crossed the finish line 28th at stage’s end. He said the balance of his Toyota was good in clean air but not so much in traffic. He pitted during the break for a right-front air pressure adjustment and packer removed from both fronts.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 86-161):
● Started 23rd, finished 24th.
● Suárez took the green flag 23rd to start the stage on lap 91 after choosing the non-preferred inside lane under NASCAR’s new “choose cone” rule. He slid back to 27th by the time the caution flag flew for a single-car incident on the frontstretch on lap 93 and stayed on track.
● The race went back to green on lap 97 with Suárez restarting 23rd. He slid back to 28th by the time the caution flag flew for another single-car incident on lap 105. He said his Toyota was too tight on corner entry during that short run. He pitted for tires and fuel and a track bar adjustment. He restarted 28th when the race went back to green on lap 110.
● Suárez was holding down the 30th position when the caution flag flew for a single-car incident on lap 130. He said the balance of his Toyota was the best it had been all day, just lacked straightaway speed. He also said he ran over debris from the incident, so he pitted for four tires and to check the splitter, which turned out to have incurred very minimal damage. He restarted 31st when the race went back to green on lap 138.
● The caution flag flew for a single-car incident on the backstraight with Suárez up to 29th. He had reached as high as 26th and had momentum to gain more spots when he was balked by slower traffic that cost him four positions. He stayed on track and restarted 27th on lap 147.
● The caution flew once again on lap 149 for another single-car incident with Suárez running 29th. He stayed on track once again and restarted 26th on lap 153 after an almost six-minute red flag period for track cleanup.
● The day’s final caution flag flew on lap 154 for a multicar incident that set up the green-white-checkered finish. Suárez restarted 25th and picked up one position on his way to the finish.
Daniel Suárez, driver of the No. 96 Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing:
“I was pretty happy with the way our Toyota was handling during the second half of the race, especially on the longer runs. Good job by Dave (Winson, crew chief) and all the guys. We’re still lacking the overall speed we need to be more competitive. That will come. We have work to do to make things better for tomorrow. One good thing is we will have a much better starting position (24th) than we usually have, so hopefully we can take advantage of that and have a really good finish.”
● Today’s result was the seventh top-25 of the season for Suárez and the No. 96 GBR Toyota, which also has been running at the finish in every race in which they’ve competed this season. That’s 20 consecutive outings.
● It was also the team’s fifth lead-lap finish of the season and third in the last five points-paying races.
● Kevin Harvick won the FireKeepers Casino 400 to score his 54th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fifth of the season and his fourth at Michigan. His margin of victory over second-place Brad Keselowski was .284 of a second.
● There were nine caution periods for a total of 43 laps.
● Thirty-two of the 39 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
● Harvick remains the championship leader after the FireKeepers Casino 400 with a 94-point advantage over second-place Keselowski.
The second event of the NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader at Michigan for Daniel Suárez and Gaunt Brothers Racing is Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400. The race starts at 4:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.