Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez is not happy with a fellow Cup Series playoff driver. He has promised payback to Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell after contact sent him into the wall during the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
“Whenever I need, I’m going to get him back,” Suarez said during his post-race availability. “I’m not saying it’s going to be Kansas or Bristol. But definitely, he owes me one, and I’m going to save that for later.”
Suarez continued and said that he will decide when to deliver his payback and that the contact should not have happened. He said that he was lucky that he was able to continue in the race after hitting the wall “very, very hard” and losing several positions at the end of the stage.
The incident occurred with five laps remaining in Stage 2. Suarez and Bell raced side-by-side with William Byron and Joey Logano behind them. Bell pinched the No. 99 on the outside, which forced it to slam into the wall. This contact damaged Suarez’s stock car and led to him losing spots to Bell, Logano, Byron, and Alex Bowman.
Suarez was still able to secure three points in Stage 2, but it was fewer than he had set out to secure. He also had to worry about the extent of the damage to the No. 99 for the remainder of the Southern 500.
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Suarez Criticized the Approach of Some Drivers
Suarez is only in his first Cup Series playoff appearance, but he avoided some “rookie mistakes” during the Southern 500. He didn’t push too hard trying to secure stage points or contend for the win, and he left South Carolina with points added to his total.
Suarez noted that different drivers took a different approach under the lights. He pointed out their aggressiveness while explaining that the Southern 500 was only the first race in the Cup Series playoffs. There are still two more races remaining before the field cuts down to only 12 championship-eligible drivers.
“How smart are some of the drivers?” Suarez asked in a video recorded by TSJ Sports‘ Noah Lewis. “It’s only Round 1 — first race — and we are already racing like that. We’re not even in Stage 3 yet. But it is what it is. I can only control the 99 car.”
Suarez Gained Some Points During the Playoff Race
While Suarez sustained some damage during the playoff race, he was able to make some moves and move up the Round of 16 leaderboard. He now sits above the cutline with two races remaining in the Round of 16. Though he has a slim advantage over Team Penske’s Austin Cindric.
Suarez entered the playoff weekend at a disadvantage considering that he was below the initial cutline. He needed to make some moves to avoid an early exit from the playoffs, but he first had to overcome another significant setback.
The No. 99 Chevrolet of Trackhouse Racing failed inspection three times at Darlington Raceway. This meant that Suarez would lose a crew member, his pit stall selection, and the opportunity to post a qualifying lap. He had to start at the rear of the field and then serve a pass-through penalty on the opening lap of the Southern 500.
While he fell a lap down early, Suarez received a gift early. Rainfall forced NASAR officials to throw the caution flag on Lap 6, which provided the driver of the No. 99 with the opportunity to take the wave around and get back on the lead lap.