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Daniel Suárez scores his first Cup win at Sonoma and makes NASCAR history

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By Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer

SONOMA, Calif. Daniel SuarezThe fan club flocks to the racetracks where the Mexican driver has a great following.

Suarez gave more than 300 of them something to celebrate on Sunday. And he screamed and cried.

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The 30-year-old led 47 of the last 50 laps, including the final 26 laps at the 1.99-mile Sonoma Raceway, to earn his first Cup victory in his 195th start as he became the first driver from Mexico to win in NASCAR’s premier series.

“I always dreamed of winning the Cup Series,” Suarez said. “I knew it was going to be a difficult journey.”

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Daniel Suárez excited after his first victory in the Cup

Daniel Suárez excited after his first victory in the Cup

Daniel Suarez is overwhelmed with emotion after capturing his first career Cup Series win at Sonoma.

Here are three takeaways from a historic Sunday in Sonoma.

Suarez’s international appeal

Suárez became the fifth foreign-born driver to win a Cup race and the first since Australia’s Marcos Ambrose won in 2012. The other foreign-born drivers to win in the Cup were Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia) , Earl Ross (Canada) and Mario Andretti (Italy).

“My story is very similar to many, many Mexicans and Latinos who come to this country trying to find their dream,” said Suarez, who celebrated in part by smashing a chocolate-filled piñata on the first straight after the race.

“I was able to make it happen… I’m very, very proud to be an example to so many.”

Suárez came to the United States 10 years ago without knowing English and learned the language by watching cartoons. He said there have been times when he thought about going back to Mexico.

“At the time, I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to compete because I didn’t speak English,” he said. “I didn’t have money to buy classes to speak English, so I had to learn just by watching movies, watching cartoons and reading.”

perseverance prevails

Suarez won the Xfinity Series championship in 2016 for Joe Gibbs Racing and then unexpectedly found himself on a Cup ride after Carl Edwards abruptly retired from JGR in the offseason.

Suarez spent two years in Cup at JGR and two more at Stewart-Haas Racing, earning four top-fives with each organization, good but not good enough to hold onto a spot.

In 2021, after a season with underfunded Gaunt Brothers Racing, Suarez got the ride in the new Trackhouse Racing, co-owned by driver Justin Marks and famed musician Pitbull. Trackhouse, now in its second year, has won twice this season with Ross Chastain and now has three wins.

“I have never met a more determined, focused and hard-working race driver in my 20 years in the sport,” Marks said of Suarez.

“Every morning, he wakes up and says, ‘I’m going to be the best version of myself that I can be today, and I’m going to do as much work as I can to win this race.’ It’s amazing how consistent it is, how that fire continues to burn so bright.”

Confidence came from being knocked down and getting back up.

“I come from a very humble family and every step of my life has cost me a lot,” Suarez said. “It was important to remember that if I could get this far, I wasn’t going to give up here.

“My confidence was high. But obviously knowing you haven’t won yet, there’s a little doubt. But I knew I was fast. I knew I could compete with the guys who were winning… Bad luck doesn’t last forever, but tough people do.”

Daniel Suárez makes history, wins in Sonoma

Daniel Suárez makes history, wins in Sonoma

Daniel Suarez captures his first career Cup Series win and becomes the first Mexican-born winner in NASCAR’s premier series.

Mistakes on pit road cost contenders

Kyle Larson was the early leader, but a wheel came off after a pit stop, not only ruining his day but also costing his crew chief and two team members over four races.

Chase Elliott, who like Larson led 26 laps, overshot his pit stop, resulting in a tail penalty from which he was unable to recover.

Kevin Harvick had a pit stop that took twice as long as it should have, ruining any chance he had of winning. He settled for fourth.

“We didn’t finish where we should have,” Harvick said. “We take away all our opportunities… We screw up every week.”

Bob Pockrass has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 after working at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpockrass. Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass!


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