NASCAR Xfinity: Daniel Suarez advances in chase with Dover win
Daniel Suarez (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
Daniel Suarez scored his second-career NASCAR Xfinity Series win on Sunday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, winning the Drive Sober 200 that was originally scheduled for Saturday but delayed by rain until Sunday morning.
“I’m very proud of this team, the 19 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry,” Suarez said. “They did a really good job today, and the guys just brought an amazing car. We had a ton of speed. This is one of those races that you would feel bad to lose the race.”
With the win, Suarez secured his spot in the second round of the first-ever chase for the Xfinity Series with one race remaining in round one.
“That’s something really good, and it just gives us more confidence and we are going to move to the next one at Charlotte (Motor Speedway, host of the final first-round race of the chase) with a little more,” Suarez said. ”We know we’re really strong in Charlotte, so now, we can go out there and have a little fun.”
Ty Dillon passed Justin Allgaier with just over two laps remaining in the race to finish second starting in the back because of an unapproved change to his car. Allgaier finished third, Ryan Blaney was fourth, and Alex Bowman finished fifth.
Suarez’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones started the race on the pole after setting a track record in qualifying and led 54 of the first 56 laps before losing the lead to Suarez on lap 57. Jones and Suarez combined to lead all but one of the first 100 laps of the 200-lap race, with the other lap being led by Ray Black Jr. when Black stayed out an extra lap during a yellow flag.
Jones battled handling issues about a quarter of the way through the race, though. On lap 100 he pitted under green and went two laps down. He got one of those laps back when other drivers began cycling through pit stops just past lap 120. He got the other lap back by staying out and taking a wave-around when the yellow flag waved on lap 138. But as a result of staying out, Jones was forced down pit road with five laps remaining. He wound up with a 16th-place finish.
“We have a good team; we just have to do it right,” Jones said. “We just didn’t do it this weekend. We didn’t have the car, and things just didn’t work out. Hopefully, we have a better car next week at Charlotte to go out and, hopefully, get into the next round. A lot of work and a lot of pressure, but I think we can do it.”
Once Suarez took the lead from Jones, he led most of the remainder of the race, running up front for a total of 123 laps.
“We have had super-strong cars in the past, but sometimes it’s not just to put a strong car together; you have to put a full race together,” Suarez said. “Today’s race, it just worked out very well.”
Justin Allgaier got by him to take the lead on a lap 152 restart, but he only led three laps before Suarez got back by to retake the lead. Allgaier then ran second to Suarez until he was overtaken by Dillon in the closing laps.
Blake Koch led 15 laps during the cycle of green-flag staps after having pitted under yellow on lap 67. But when the yellow waved on lap 138, he ran out of fuel on his way to pit road. After his fuel issue, Koch finished the race in the 14th position.
Finishing sixth through 10th were Corey LaJoie, Elliott Sadler, J.J. Yeley, Brendan Gaughan and Ryan Reed.