It’s a new year. And for the fast-paced sport of NASCAR, it’s the start of a new season. The slate from the previous year has been wiped clean. Everything is fresh. Everyone is a contender. It’s an electric feeling. Everyone associated with the sport and anyone who’s a fan can practically feel the charge.
This weekend, that sensation is amplified for driver Daniel Suarez, who will have the charge of an outrageously dependable battery powering the start of his 2018 campaign in the NASCAR XFINITY Series program.
Driving the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), Suarez will be among the field of drivers taking part in the season-opening Powershares QQQ 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. It is the first of two XFINITY Series races in which Suarez is scheduled to compete in 2018.
A native of Monterrey, Mexico, Suarez will be making his seventh career start in XFINITY competition at Daytona and it’s the second consecutive Daytona race in which he has sported the iconic Interstate Batteries colors.
As the founding partner and “Official Battery of Joe Gibbs Racing,” Interstate Batteries has been powering the team for more than 25 years. Since 1992, JGR’s first full season in NASCAR, Interstate Batteries has played an integral role in the organization’s development from start-up race team to championship powerhouse.
For his part, Suarez will attempt to return the Interstate Batteries-branded XFINITY Series car to victory lane. Dating back to the spring of 2016 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, Suarez has made four starts in XFINITY Series competition when the Dallas-based company has been on the hood of his Toyota. He’s gone one for four in those races, scoring a win in dominating fashion at Dover (Del.) International Speedway on Oct. 2, 2016.
When it comes to XFINITY Series competition at Daytona, however, Suarez is looking for a little luck to go his way. In six XFINITY starts at the World Center of Racing, the 2016 XFINITY series champ has had four of those races end prematurely due to accidents. Suarez earned his best result at Daytona during the series’ season-opening race in 2016, when he finished in eighth place after starting second. Prior to 2016, Suarez earned the top starting spot in just his second outing at the 2.5-mile superspeedway in July 2015.
Saturday’s 300-mile event will serve as a prelude to Sunday’s main event – the 60th running of the Daytona 500 in which Suarez will be kicking off his sophomore campaign in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. After finishing a close second to teammate Erik Jones for the title of Rookie of the Year in 2017, Suarez is looking to make a smooth transition from rookie driver to upstart championship contender.
A solid performance Saturday could go a long way toward providing the charge he needs to get 2018 started in the right direction.