CommScope Driver Heads to Best Track for Dover Doubleheader
MOORESVILLE, North Carolina (Aug. 18, 2020) – It’s a challenging high-banked, concrete mile oval known as the “Monster Mile,” but Dover (Del.) International Speedway, site of this weekend’s third and final NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader race weekend, is where Daniel Suárez has done best in his three previous seasons in NASCAR’s premier series.
The 28-year-old native of Monterrey, Mexico heads to the Delmarva Peninsula in his No. 96 CommScope Toyota Camry with the single-car Gaunt Brothers Racing (GBR) team he joined this season for twin 311-mile races Saturday and Sunday looking to capitalize on his past performances there.
His average Cup Series start in six previous Dover outings is 10.5 and his average finish is 8.7, the latter number bettered only by his average finish of 8.0 on the road course at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, where he has an average start of 14.7. All six of his previous Dover Cup Series appearances resulted in top-15 finishes with a best of third in the May 2018 race in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. And all but one of his Dover Cup Series starts came from 15th or better on the grid with a best of third in the May 2017 race in his Gibbs Toyota. He’s led 22 laps at Dover, all but one of which came in the May 2019 race in his Stewart-Haas Racing entry, when he finished 14th.
Suárez’s record at Dover is even better in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where he took Rookie of the Year honors in 2015 and the overall championship in 2016, both of which are firsts for a Mexican driver in a NASCAR national touring series. His dominating victory in the October 2016 Xfinity Series race at Dover, in which he led a race-high 122 laps and crossed the finish line 5.625 seconds ahead of runner-up Ty Dillon, springboarded him to the series championship, which he sealed with another dominating victory five weeks later in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Five of Suárez’s six Xfinity Series appearances at Dover resulted in top-10 finishes after starting in the top-five in five of those races.
Add his pair of runner-up finishes at Dover in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series in 2015 and 2016 and his sixth-place finish there in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship in 2013 and it should come as no surprise Suárez and his CommScope Toyota teammates are looking forward to not one, but two chances to score their best results of their first season together come Saturday and Sunday.
Daniel Suárez: Driver of the No. 96 CommScope Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing:
You’re headed to Dover for the season’s third and final doubleheader race weekend. Your thoughts?
“Actually, Dover is one of my favorite tracks that we go to. It’s so much fun and the feeling you get inside the car is pretty incredible. It’s also been one of my best tracks, statistically. My expectations are really high for this weekend because I have run so well in the past there.”
You keep finishing races and are in or around the top-25 each week. Where have you seen the biggest improvements since the beginning of the year?
“My crew chief (Dave Winston) and I are working together for the first time this year. Our engineers came on board after the start of the season and everyone’s been working in the middle of the pandemic, so it’s been about communication. I feel like we have been getting better as we go with communication, knowing what we need, and maximizing the speed of our racecars. We know what we’ve got. We know as people what we are capable of. But we also know the limitations of the equipment we have today. So we are just trying to maximize as much as possible what we have. We’ve been trying to update as much as possible the cars we have. Right now, it’s a difficult position to be in. It’s extremely hard to go out and try and get cars from someone and they are different kinds of cars and they don’t fit and the engines and the transmissions and the stuff that we have. It’s a process we have to go through, updating the stuff that we already have. We are trying new things and we are hoping to see a difference in speed and, just like that, we are slowly making what we think are gains in the right direction.”
Dave Winston, Crew Chief of the No. 96 CommScope Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing:
How has this season gone for you from a week-to-week standpoint, trying to grow and improve this relatively new team?
“We debrief at the shop after every race. Daniel comes in and we sit around the table and basically we talk and we’re honest as a team. There are times when Daniel feels the adjustments we make are really good and we get everything knocked out, and other times, going back and looking at it, that may not always be the case. It’s one of those things where, if you can go back and race again, we know we’d be better, but then 30-something other cars would be better, also. This weekend at Dover will be one of those where we’ll have a fresh chance to come back Sunday and try and improve upon what we did on Saturday, and we hope to capitalize on that. It’s been a really good track for Daniel, so that’s something solid to build upon.”