NASCAR Cup Series driver Daniel Suarez (R) won the first Cup Series race of his career Sunday at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Photo by Zach Catanzereti Photo/Wikimedia Commons
June 13 (UPI) — Daniel Suarez edged Chris Buescher’s No. 17 Ford by nearly four seconds to win the Toyota/Save Mart 350 and become the first Mexican-born driver in history to win a race in NASCAR’s Cup Series.
Suarez led for 47 laps in his No. 99 Black Chevrolet on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. The 3.849-second win was his first in 195 Cup Series appearances.
“It was special,” the Monterrey, Mexico, native told reporters. “Man, I’ve been working very hard for this moment, not just myself, but my entire team.
“I am very lucky to have people around me in the team, but outside the team. My family always supporting me. … We did it in front of a few hundred Mexicans and Daniel’s Amigos. It was just a special day. I have always seen California as my second home. To be able to get the first victory here is quite special.”
Buescher drove one of five Fords that followed Suarez over the finish line. Michael McDowell, Kevin Harvick and Austin Cindric also finished in the Top 5. Ryan Blaney, Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott, William Byron and Brad Keselowski rounded out the Top 10.
Pole sitter Kyle Larson led the race for the first 26 laps and won Stage 1. Elliott led for the next 26. Logano took over the pack from lap Nos. 53 though 56. Buescher led for the next four, but was passed by Suarez. Suarez and Keselowski exchanged the lead late, but the victorious No. 99 took over for good from lap Nos. 85-110.
“You know, it has cost me a lot to get to this point,” Suarez said. “A lot of people don’t know that, but it has cost me a lot to get to this country first 10 years ago, and to get to this point, fighting. I come from a very humble family. Every step of my life has cost me a lot.
“I knew that it was important to remember that if I was able to come all the way here, I wasn’t going to give up here. My confidence was high. But obviously knowing that you haven’t won yet, there is a little bit of doubt. But I knew that I was fast. I knew that I could race with them, with the guys that are winning.”
Suarez climbed to No. 17 in the Cup Series standings. Elliott, Chastain, Kyle Busch, Blaney and Logano are the Top 5 drivers so far this season. Martin Truex Jr., Larson, Byron, Alex Bowman and Christopher Bell also are inside the Top 10.
Chastain now owns a Cup series-best seven Top 5 finishes. Larson owns a series-high 11 Top 10 finishes.
Byron, Chastain, Logano and Denny Hamlin are the only drivers with multiple wins (two) in 16 Cup Series starts. The Cup Series season will continue with the Ally 400 at 5 p.m. EDT June 26 at Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, Tenn.