Daniel Suarez on the upswing as Cup series comes to Dover

Daniel Saurez (Getty Images)

Admittedly, the sample size is small, but Dover International speedway is one of Daniel Suarez’s best Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series tracks.

In his 2017 rookie season at NASCAR’s top level, Suarez qualified third and fifth and finished sixth and eighth in his two appearances at the Monster Mile. And he comes to Dover this week after consecutive results of 11th, 10th and 10th at Bristol, Richmond and Talladega, respectively.

After a sluggish start to the season, which included a crash in the Daytona 500 that knocked him out of the race on Lap 60, Suarez has climbed to 21st in the series standings over the last two weeks.

“Definitely, the first month and half of so of the season was a little rough,” Suarez said on Friday at Dover. “We had speed pretty much everywhere we were going. We just had a lot of inconsistency, and for whatever reason, we were not doing a good job putting ourselves in a good position by the end of the races—getting involved in different accidents or just not good positions.

“And I feel like I was putting maybe a little bit too much pressure on myself to try to do well. The last month or so, I’ve been just more relaxed and doing just this without expecting to be great, and things are coming our way again. The speed, like I said, has been there pretty much the entire year. It’s just the results and the consistency, but it seems like now we’re heading in the right direction.”

Suarez also believes qualifying for the Playoff is a distinct possibility.

“Playoff position? Oh, yeah, there’s plenty of time,” he said. “I feel like it’s still very early.”

Suarez qualified seventh for Sunday’s race.

SHORT STROKES

With the possibility of late afternoon rain in the forecast, the start of the OneMain Financial 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Dover will take place an hour earlier than originally scheduled. The race will now start at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. The change affects all other track activity before the race. Saturday’s first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice moves to 8: 30 a.m., with Xfinity Series qualifying to follow at 9:35 a.m. The 50-minute final practice for Cup drivers will start at 11 a.m., instead of noon as originally scheduled…

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