There are seven races remaining in the NASCAR Cup Series regular season, and several drivers are fighting for the final spots above the cutoff line. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch currently sits in 16th, but several drivers are within mere points of reaching the playoffs. Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez is among this group and is setting up a dark horse run after a consistent stretch of races.
The driver of the No. 99 turned in solid performances during the doubleheader weekend at Pocono Raceway. He finished 13th on Saturday, June 26, and added 27 points to his total. He nearly added a top-10 finish on Sunday, June 27, but had to pit at the end of the race to refuel. Suarez still ended the day 15th and added 24 more points.
The doubleheader weekend at Pocono only continued the run of top-15s by Suarez and the Trackhouse Racing team. He finished 15th in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, 12th at Sonoma Raceway, and then seventh at Nashville Superspeedway. Now Suarez sits 48 points below the cutoff line with seven races remaining and the opportunity to reach the playoffs.
The Inaugural Trackhouse Racing Season Started With a Crash
Suarez headed to Daytona International Speedway in February for the season-opening Daytona 500. This race marked the first official outing with Trackhouse Racing owners Justin Marks and Pitbull, resulting in raised expectations for the 29-year-old, especially after he finished eighth in the first Bluegreen Vacations Duel qualifying race.
Suarez lined up 15th for the start of the Daytona 500 alongside some of the Cup Series’ biggest names, with the goal of winning his first race at the top level and reaching the playoffs. However, a massive crash sent him and several other drivers to the garage after only 13 laps. He walked away from the season-opening race with only one point while Front Row Motorsports driver Michael McDowell secured his first career win.
Despite starting the year with a crash, Suarez made positive strides during the first 19 races. He captured fourth in the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt race on Mar. 29 and then finished 11th at Kansas Speedway. Suarez added another top-10 finish (ninth) at Dover International Speedway to set up this late-season fight for a playoff spot. Although he first had to overcome a 33rd-place outing at Circuit of the Americas.
Suarez Can Make More Strides at ‘Favorable’ Tracks
Punching his ticket to the playoffs will not be a simple task for the Trackhouse Racing driver. He will have to perform better than fellow bubble drivers in Busch, Bubba Wallace, Chris Buescher, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. However, he can pursue this goal at tracks where he has a solid history.
Following the first Cup Series race at Road America since 1956, Suarez and his fellow drivers will return to more familiar territory. There are upcoming dates at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Michigan, Atlanta, Daytona, and Watkins Glen. Minus Daytona, Suarez has finished top 10 at all of these tracks. He has also posted a combined four top-five finishes at Watkins Glen and Michigan.
If Suarez can continue to fight for top-10 finishes at these tracks, he will remain in contention for one of the final playoff spots. Doing so would mark a major moment in the first-year organization’s history and set Trackhouse Racing up for greater success while it prepares to expand to a two-car team in 2022.