The Suarez Road to Xfinity Championship
The 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series season was full of magic and history breaking wins for champion, Daniel Suarez. 2016 was his second full-time season racing for Joe Gibbs in the Xfinity Series.
Suarez started the season at Daytona through starting on the outside of the front row. He ultimately finished eighth. As the season began to get going, Suarez kept qualifying within the top-three alongside Joe Gibbs Racing teammates. While his teammates kept grabbing poles, he was finally able to grab his first pole of the season at Auto Club Speedway. He went on to win three more poles at Iowa, Dover, and Homestead-Miami. Suarez qualified within the top-10 throughout the season.
Coming out of the 2015 season, it was not a matter of if, but when Suarez would win his first career race in the Xfinity Series. It took Suarez only 13 races to snag his first win and lock him into the Chase in the Xfinity Series at Michigan International Speedway.
The race was dominated by Kyle Busch, but Suarez was able to pass Busch at the start of the last lap. Suarez was able to hold off a charging to Busch to gain the victory. He suffered a speeding penalty earlier in the race. On that day, Suarez only led four laps to become the first driver from Mexico to win in NASCAR.
Suarez was able to finish all the races in 2016 except two. At Daytona in July, he was involved in an accident on lap 48. At Iowa, Suarez suffered an engine failure on lap 134 that resulted in a 30th place finish.
In the final 10 races of the season, Suarez did not post a finish outside of the top-10. When the Chase began, Suarez was able to win in the rain-delayed race at Dover. In the “Round of 8”, Suarez was consistent with two fifth place finishes and a third place finish to move on to Homestead.
Homestead was when the fire caught a flame. Suarez was able to start from the pole position. Suarez ran a flawless race in the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead, where he scored a perfect driver rating of 150.0.
“It’s very hard to put into words,” said Suarez after making his title run. “I’m speechless right now. I’m just very proud of everyone and thankful to have the family that I have – my mom, my dad. They gave me all the tools to be here right now. They put me in a car even when we didn’t have the support or the racing background. They supported me and right now we are just living a dream.”
The victory at Homestead by Suarez allowed for Toyota to win the Manufacturer’s Championship in the Xfinity Series.
Suarez completed 5424 laps of the 5579 laps ran in the 2016 season. He lead 347 laps throughout the season. He had 19 top-fives and 27 top-10’s. On average, he started at 3.9. He had an average finish of 8.0 throughout the 33 races.
Suarez will continue to race for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2017.
I am 19 years old from Atlanta, GA. I have been following motorsports since I was born. Motorsports has been "passed down" in my family. I am named after NASCAR Hall of Famer, William Caleb Yarborough, also known as Cale. Growing up in the southeast, racing was something that was a Sunday tradition after church. What an honor it is to share that passion with others.