Daniel Suarez moves into provisional Playoff spot with strong Bristol run

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE - AUGUST 17: Daniel Suarez, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Ford, leads Ryan Newman, driver of the #6 Acronis Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Toyota, during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 17, 2019 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Daniel Suarez made a move toward the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with a strong eighth-place run in Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, but he gained the most ground with a strategic move near the halfway point in the race.

Suarez stayed on the track under caution for teammate Clint Bowyer’s spin on Lap 242 of 500 and finished second in a two-lap shootout to end the race’s second stage. That move was worth nine stage points to Suarez, who moved two points past Bowyer in the race for the final Playoff spot—even though Bowyer recovered to run seventh at finish.

“I feel like that was probably the biggest thing of the day,” Suarez said. “I feel like that was an amazing call from my crew chief, Billy Scott, and I’m proud of that call. We have to just keep making those decisions.”

Suarez overcame some pit road glitches to finish in the top 10 and has two more races to solidify his position in the Playoffs.

“The racing was fun,” Suarez said. “All in all, it was a pretty solid day for the No. 41 Ford. I feel like we had a top-10 car the entire weekend, and that’s pretty much where we ran. We had some ups and downs on pit road and had some mistakes there, as well as some electrical issues that I feel like we’re lucky we were able to continue to finish the race with the battery.

“But overall I’m proud of my team. Hopefully, we can keep the momentum going in the next few weeks.”

Greg Engle