SPARTA, KY – Daniel Suarez had high hopes for Saturday night’s Quaker State 400. He had earned his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole on Friday evening and was third and eighth quickest respectively in practice this weekend at the Kentucky Speedway as well.
Suarez, said that he just wanted to win again.
He had a shot too in his No. 41 Ford.
Suarez, led the first 49 laps of the race before pitting under the first caution of the night. But, that’s where his race changed for the worse. See, Suarez’ crew played it safe and took four tires. Unfortunately, most others took either no tires or two.
That dropped Suarez from first back to 14th. He gave stage points away by that decision as they finished 14th in Stage 1. Then, in the second stage, Suarez was brought down pit road early to get off strategy and score points at the end. That was a costly move too as Suarez was speeding on pit road which made him have to come back down again as a result.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver said that there were too many tire marks on the pit road at entry which caused him to not see the pit commitment line. Nevertheless, he fell three laps down to 33rd. He made up two laps by the end of the stage to 29th.
When the closing laps came, Suarez cycled to the lead on Lap 246 and went fuel only to get track position. He would remain in the top 10 the rest of the way and rebounded to an eighth place finish overall. It was his third top 10 finish in the last six races as he’s now four points behind the cutoff spot for the playoffs.
“It was an eventful night for sure,” said Suarez. “We just had a fast race car but we got a bit tight. I feel like we made the car better but we never got the track position back. We had a tire going down and then I was speeding coming to pit road because I was wheel hopping because of the tire. It was one problem after another. We were fast enough to overcome that but not enough to get a better finish. I feel like the good thing is that we have the speed we just have to keep working to have a cleaner day and keep working to try to keep that speed the whole race.”
Suarez, said that it is an empty feeling leaving Kentucky without any stage points despite starting on the pole but does feel happy to leave with a top 10 at the end of the day.
“It is. I feel like the first stage the call that we made on four tires instead of two tires kind of messed us up a little bit. That is part of it. We made our bed on that. There was one caution after another and we couldn’t recover. After that we had the flat tire. It was just bad decisions and a little bad luck but we were able to overcome with a decent finish.”
He lost just one point overall. That’s not bad with how his night was at one point in the race.