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Daniel Suárez Perseveres at Texas for Fifth Place Finish

Daniel Suárez

Daniel Suárez fist-bumping fans pre-race at Texas Motor Speedway. (Photo: Cody Porter | The Podium Finish)

FORT WORTH, Texas — Daniel Suárez started the season off with a bang, winning by a three-wide photo finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway in race two.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing though for Suarez and the No. 99 team since then. In the six races following the victory, Suárez hasn’t finished in the top 10 and has finished outside of the top 20 in three races in a row coming into Texas Motor Speedway.

The weekend started on a similar note when Suárez failed to make round two of qualifying and started Sunday’s AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 from the 17th position.

Suárez was quiet throughout the first stage, running outside of the top 15 when the green flag pit stop began on Lap 34.

After completing his green flag pit stop, Suárez found himself a lap down running outside the top 20 when the first caution of the race came out on Lap 50. Jimmie Johnson spun out in Turn 4 while running in 36th place. Suárez took the wave around under caution along with 13 other cars to get back on the lead lap.

This forced Suárez to start at the tail end of the field for the Lap 56 restart. Then, the remainder of Stage 1 went green to the end and Suárez wasn’t able to make up much ground, finishing the stage in 32nd place.

Stage 2 started relatively calm until a Lap 102 caution for Christopher Bell as he got loose coming out of Turn 4, hitting the outside wall. Alex Bowman and John Hunter Nemechek were also involved in the aftermath of trying to avoid Bell.

Daniel Suárez

Daniel Suárez (99) racing at Texas Motor Speedway. (Photo: Cody Porter | The Podium Finish)

All of the lead lap cars besides Todd Gilliland, who stayed out to take the lead came down pit road. Different strategies played out during the pit cycle with six cars taking fuel only, 10 taking two tires and fuel and the remainder taking four tires and fuel. Suárez’s team elected for the four-tire call.

After the Lap 107 restart, three quick cautions came out in the next 30 laps. The first was for Carson Hocevar who spun out while running 23rd and the other two were both for Josh Berry spins.

After the second Berry spin, all of the lead lap cars besides eight came down pit road on Lap 139. While on pit road, Suárez’s team received an equipment interference penalty and would have to start at the rear, losing all the track position Suarez made up.

The race went back green on Lap 143 and coming out of Turn 4 when Michael McDowell got loose on the outside of Ross Chastain while battling for the lead and slammed the outside wall hard, ending his day.

After this, the race went green for the remainder of Stage 2, which ended on Lap 166. Suárez worked his way back after the pit road penalty to finish the stage in 22nd.

During the stage break, Suárez came down pit road with 15 other cars, while all the other remaining lead lap cars stayed out, choosing track position over fresh tires.

Stage 3 started with Suárez restarting in the 22nd position. The green flag also didn’t stay out for a full lap off of this restart, as Chase Briscoe and Bubba Wallace wrecked while racing for the lead.

Daniel Suárez

Daniel Suárez on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

The race got back going again on 178 and Suárez had a tough restart, falling back to 26th place. This was right on queue for Suáre, however, as another quick caution came out, this time just three laps later on Lap 181 for Ryan Blaney who spun and hit the outside wall.

After restarting on Lap 185, a healthy green flag run occurred which even saw green flag pit stops.

Suárez’s team chose to go long during the cycle and be one of the last cars to pit, hoping for a caution to come out. And once again right on queue, a caution did come out on Lap 229 when Nemechek hit the wall.

This allowed Suárez to make his pit stop under yellow, saving a lot of valuable time and track position as the race winded down. Suárez restarted in 17th place when the race went back green on Lap 235.

Then, Suárez began working his way up through the field for the first time all race and found himself inside the top 10 with under 20 laps to go. This is when another caution came out, this time for Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and set up a restart with eight laps remaining.

After three quick yellows, the race found itself in overtime attempt No. 2 as Suárez restarted in fifth place.

Daniel Suárez

Daniel Suárez during Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. (Photo: Cody Porter | The Podium Finish)

On the restart, Suárez lost a position to Tyler Reddick falling back to sixth, but on the last lap made it back to fifth place after teammate Ross Chastain checked up and got turned from behind by William Byron.

The race ended under yellow with Suárez finishing in fifth place and Chase Elliott capturing the win for the first time in 42 races.

“Very tricky day, not a clean day, but we got a good result, so we’ll take it,” Suárez said post-race. “We have a lot of things to clean up but we’re going to continue to work and continue to get better.”

For Suárez, the top-five finish is the team’s first since the victory at Atlanta in February. The result also brings some momentum over to next week’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“We’re going to work a lot with our manufacture partners and try to stay up front and control the race,” Suárez said. “Hopefully, we can finish in Victory Lane.”

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