Daniel Suarez rallies for top-10 finish at Kentucky

SPARTA, KENTUCKY - JULY 13: Daniel Suarez, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Ford, and Aric Almirola, driver of the #10 Valley Tech Learning Ford, race during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart at Kentucky Speedway on July 13, 2019 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The weekend at Kentucky started out with a great deal of promise for Stewart-Haas Racing driver Daniel Suarez.  He won his second career pole Friday beating out his teammate Aric Almirola. It was the first pole he’d actually posted the top speed for; his last pole came last July at Pocono and he was awarded the top spot thanks to the two drivers ahead of him failing pre-race inspection.

Saturday night he took the lead form the start but fell back to 14th after an early pit stop.  While trying to battle back, he was forced to pit under green for a tire going down on lap 108. Adding insult to injury, NASCAR penalized him for speeding.

By lap 144, he found himself three laps down. By lap 179 thanks in large part to some timely cautions and wave-arounds, Suarez was back on the lead lap. When the dust settled after a chaotic overtime finish Suarez earned an eighth-place finish for his efforts and could actually smile.

“It was an eventful night for sure,” Suarez said. “We just had a fast race car but we got a bit tight. I feel like we made the car better but we never got the track position back. We had a tire going down and then I was speeding coming to pit road because I was wheel hopping because of the tire. It was one problem after another. We were fast enough to overcome that but not enough to get a better finish. I feel like the good thing is that we have the speed we just have to keep working to have a cleaner day and keep working to try to keep that speed the whole race.”

In the July Pocono race last year Suarez led 29 laps, the most of his career. Saturday night he ed the second most laps of the race, 52. But he did have a somewhat empty feeling after not scoring any stage points

“I feel like the first stage the call that we made on four tires instead of two tires kind of messed us up a little bit,” Suarez said. “That is part of it. We made our bed on that. There was one caution after another and we couldn’t recover. After that we had the flat tire. It was just bad decisions and a little bad luck but we were able to overcome with a decent finish.”

Greg Engle