Toyota Racing – Daniel Suárez
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Texas Motor Speedway – April 6, 2018
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Daniel Suárez was made available to the media at Texas Motor Speedway:
DANIEL SUÁREZ, No. 19 Stanley ‘Racing for a Miracle’ Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Tell us about your special paint scheme this weekend and why you have a million reasons to win the race on Sunday.
“First of all, thank you all for being here. This is a very special week and weekend. I’m very excited. I was very excited yesterday, just as I am on Sundays for the race – just to meet all these kids that helped inspire this race car that I’m going to be driving this weekend – Matthew, Jacob, Lucas and Gabrielle, these kids are amazing. When you get the chance to meet these kids, the first impression is just to have a smile on your face. They are so excited to be here. They were extremely excited to see the race car finally done yesterday. And that for every reason it just gives you an extra push to do your very very best. I’m very excited obviously. A great car enthusiast like Chip Foose helped to design this race car as well, so overall all just very excited. Stanley with this ‘Race for a Miracle’ program for the 12th year, donating with Ace Hardware $100,000 to this foundation and if we win the race, that will increase to a million dollars. I’m just very lucky. I’m very excited to be here and I can’t wait to have the kids and Chip with me this weekend.”
Do you have a favorite Stanley tool?
“I use tools a lot. I work on cars a lot, so it’s very hard to choose just one because you need more than one just to work on cars. Something that you need to have, it doesn’t matter what, are screw drivers. You need to have screw drivers to make everything work, you have to start with that. So for sure I have my Stanley screw drivers.”
Have you felt additional support when you race in states close to Mexico?
“Yeah, actually I didn’t mention this part because obviously there is a lot going on this weekend for me, but Texas is the only race track that I can have family, friends and all kinds of people from my hometown driving to this place, so this is a special place for that as well because it’s not my home track, but it’s very close, so I can call this one of my home tracks. And really I’m excited about all of that as well, but number one, like I mentioned, is these kids. I really hope that we do a very good race for these kids. It would be a dream come true for me to bring these kids with me to victory lane. That would be something amazing, just like winning a championship because when you get the opportunity to meet these kids, it just, like I said it brings a big smile to your face and you can see that excitement that they bring to the car, to the race track and hopefully to victory lane.”
Have you always had a soft spot for kids and for this program or is this something that really touched you when you kind of got into this program?
“Since I was racing in Mexico I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of different teams and sponsors that almost all of them they have supported different foundations and back when I was racing in Mexico I remember being part of one of the foundations that helped kids as well. I can see myself being very very aggressive and very hard on myself in one side, in the racing stuff, but on the other side, when it comes to kids and helping others and all the kinds of things we do besides racing, it’s something I really love to do. I feel like I’m fortunate enough to be in this position and do what I love to do every weekend and the least we can do is to give back and support others. For me, to be a small part of this is just a huge deal. I’m sure you – everyone can see how excited I am. Not just for the race, not just for Texas, but as well for all these kids. It’s just very cool to hang out with them. The kids – it doesn’t matter in what moment you are, these kids are going to bring you a smile to your face.”
What’s the biggest challenge for you in running a good lap or a good race at Bristol?
“Bristol actually is one of my favorite race tracks because it’s very tough and it’s very demanding – physically and mentally. You don’t have a lot of time to rest. To be very honest with you, I love Bristol and feel like that’s a very cool place. I haven’t thought about Bristol at all. Right now, my mind is in Texas and it’s on doing well today in practice and qualifying, tomorrow in practice and Sunday in the race.”
What kind of challenges have you had this year?
“We have had a lot of challenges so far this year. We have had good speed, we just, we’ve been very inconsistent. We’ve been very – struggling a little bit sometimes, not always, but sometimes transferring that speed from practice to the race or from qualifying to practice – the speed is there, we just have to be able to transfer that speed to the weekend and that’s something that we have to keep working on and try to keep getting better at. I’m sure we are going to get it. We have some new engineers from last year to this year and these guys are extremely smart. They have a huge talent and I’m sure once we get everything together and once we get on the right track, we’re going to be very strong. We just have to keep working at it and hopefully we can get it here very soon.”
Do you see yourself identifying with these kids at all?
“I feel like the most important part is just to give these kids an amazing experience. An experience that they will remember for life, forever. And I feel like so far it’s been just like that, but just on my side as well, designing the car with someone like Chip Foose – actually I’m a big fan of Chip. He’s an amazing car builder that I’ve been following for a long time and all these kids, you can tell right away the experience that they’re having. Yesterday at the hospital, they were extremely excited. They wanted to be here every day and they are ready to go. They know that they are part of the – they know that they designed the car, but that’s not everything. They are part of the pit crew now. They are going to be in the – before the race in the grid with us. They are going to be in the pit box. They are going to be part of the racing this weekend and they are extremely excited about that. We have a nickname for the car already as well, #GoFroggy. Overall, I feel like it’s going to be a lot of fun. I just have to do my part, but for whatever reason when you have that positive energy of kids, that transfers to yourself and I feel that already on me. I feel like I have a lot of positive energy from these kids and I’m sure we’re going to do very well this week.”
Does is weigh on your mind to get this first win in the Cup Series?
“It’s something that’s always on my mind, but we have to – we have to take things realistic and know where we’re at. I feel like we have had speed to run in the top five and once you’re in the top five, you can be able to win races. But I feel like we have to make those two steps – to be able to run in the top five and to be able to win races. I know that we’re going to get there because we have a great team, we have great people and I know I can do it. We just have to keep working at it. It’s not easy and I knew that since last year and I knew that to make it in the top 10 in the Cup Series, it was going to be tough, but the next two steps, I knew that it was going to be even tougher. We’re going to get there, we just need time and to keep working.”
What are your impressions of the competition between the younger drivers and older drivers on and off the track? For instance, the banner at Texas Motor Speedway that has you with the young drivers labeled as ‘New Kids on the Track’.
“You know sometimes I look to myself and I feel like I’m getting old and I’m glad Texas Motor Speedway keeps looking at me like a kid. I like that. I feel like that’s very cool. I’ve been racing with some – all of those guys in the banner for a long time. Since the K&N days, so it’s very cool to see all these guys now in the Cup Series with myself and racing each other in the highest level of racing. Because I remember back in 2011 and ‘12, we were racing in K&N. It’s very cool how things change in the sport and in the young drivers and in the young series. It’s very cool for me to see that kind of pictures or banners because it gives you a lot of memories from back in the day.”
Do you think the older drivers are jealous of all of the promotion the younger drivers are getting?
“I think a little bit. You know that’s – the way I think, is that all of the veteran drivers they are very strong. They have a very strong fan base and they have, obviously, a lot of support. They have pretty much the path already made and I feel like for young drivers sometimes we need that extra push to start making that path and to start building that fan base and this is nothing wrong to have some extra support. I’m sure – I mean I can’t guarantee this because I wasn’t around – but I’m sure that when Kevin (Harvick) or Kyle (Busch) or when any of the veteran drivers, when they were young, in their middle 20s, I’m sure that they had some good exposure as well to help build their brand and to help build that fan base. You know, I – that’s what I think. But maybe that’s part of racing too. Everyone is competitive, sometimes not just on the race track but as well outside of the race track.”
Have you had fans reach out to you about the benefits of having you as a role model in the Hispanic community.
“For me, it’s very cool. Like you mentioned just a couple of weeks ago I was here with the Consulate and it’s very cool to meet people, not just from Mexico, but from Latin America – and this has happened to me actually already several times, that they come to me to tell me that they didn’t follow NASCAR a lot. They didn’t know a lot about NASCAR, but once they find out that there was one Mexican driver racing in the Cup Series, now they follow the sport and they follow me. I think that’s something very cool that people are getting into the sport because they can feel that connection with someone. Actually that has happened to me in the past as well. I remember with boxing for example, I wasn’t following a lot of boxing when I didn’t see anyone from Mexico and then actually when someone is from Mexico is doing well or doing something in the next series or fight or whatever, I start to follow a little bit more. I feel like that’s just a natural connection and I’ve seen that a lot in the last month with the West Coast swing and as well here in Texas. I just feel very proud to be a small part of this and I’m sure that my team, NASCAR, everyone is doing a very good job trying to let everyone know what we’re doing.”