CommScope Toyota Driver Loves Racing in Phoenix
MOORESVILLE, North Carolina (March 3, 2020) – The 2020 edition of the NASCAR Cup Series’ annual West Coast Swing concludes Sunday at the mile oval in the Arizona desert that has been a favorite stop in the stock-car-racing career of Daniel Suárez, driver of the No. 96 CommScope Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing (GBR).
The 28-year-old native of Monterrey, Mexico has seen his legion of fans across the United States grow steadily since he first started racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series in 2011, on through his NASCAR Xfinity Series championship-winning season of 2016, and now to the beginnings of his fourth Cup Series campaign. But nowhere does Suárez’s fan base come to life with more energy and enthusiasm than in the Desert Southwest and Southern California.
Sunday’s FanShield 500k Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway will once again most certainly bring the chanting, flag-waving Suárez fans to life as he and his GBR teammates take to the recently renovated, quirky layout where he’s scored a pair of victories.
The first came in the 2014 NASCAR Peak Mexico Series season opener, when Suárez drove his No. 3 Telcel/Samsung-sponsored Toyota owned by Alejandro Cruz to a last-lap win by .098 of a second over Rodrigo Peralta. He started the race second and led 45 laps in all en route to his first of four series wins that year and seventh of 10 Mexico Series wins in 76 career outings.
The second Phoenix win came for Suárez in the November 2016 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race behind the wheel of the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota. He qualified second, led 34 laps and beat runner-up Johnny Sauter by .510 of a second for his lone career victory in the Truck Series.
Suárez first competed at Phoenix in the K&N Pro Series West races in 2011 and 2012, featuring front-row starting spots in the November 2011 and March 2012 races with finishes of sixth and third, respectively.
In NASCAR’s Xfinity series, Suárez has five career Phoenix starts highlighted by three consecutive top-five finishes – fourth in November 2015, third in March 2016 and fifth in November 2016 – the latter two en route to winning the series championship in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Most recently, Suárez has posted a pair of top-10s and another top-15 finish, and one top-10 qualifying effort in six Cup Series outings at Phoenix from 2017 through 2019. He finished seventh and eighth in the March 2017 and 2018 races, respectively, in his No. 19 Toyota for Gibbs, and posted his best Phoenix Cup Series qualifying effort of 10th in the November 2017 race. Last November, he started and finished 15th in his Stewart-Haas Racing entry.
After finishes of 30th and 28th the last two weekends at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, respectively, Suárez and his GBR teammates are set to debut their new-look paint-scheme featuring the Mexican driver’s longtime partner CommScope, a company known for pushing the boundaries of communications technology with game-changing ideas and ground-breaking discoveries that spark profound human achievement. CommScope collaborates with its customers and partners to design, create and build the world’s most advanced networks. Its passion and commitment is to identify the next opportunity and realize a better tomorrow. More information can be found at www.CommScope.com.
With the stylish, new paint scheme and a pair of complete races under their collective belts, Suárez and his new team for 2020 look to take another step forward in their evolution together this weekend at a track that is an old favorite.
Daniel Suárez: Driver of the No. 96 CommScope Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing:
You’ve scored victories in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series and in the NASCAR Peak Mexico Series at Phoenix. Your thoughts about heading back there this weekend with the No. 96 CommScope Toyota Camry?
“I like Phoenix a lot. It’s always been a good racetrack for me. In 2014 (Mexico Series) and 2016 (Truck Series), we finished in victory lane and I’m looking forward to giving it another shot. You need to have a lot of downforce to be fast there. Hopefully we’ll show up with a good car and be strong. Like any other place on the West Coast, it’s really good to have a lot of support from the Hispanic community and lot of great fans supporting us.”
How do you get around the track at Phoenix?
“You can cut the corner at Phoenix. The biggest thing when you do that is the splitter hitting the ground and the car in general hitting the ground because the car is so close to the ground. It’s just difficult to take care of the car doing that. We use extremely low air pressure in the left-side tires and that, combined with the car being so close to the ground already, makes Phoenix really challenging, especially in the short run. In the long run, the car usually gets tight at Phoenix. I really like Phoenix a lot and feel like I always have good speed there, but it’s a difficult place. You have to be very, very patient, take care of the brakes. It’s just a tricky place.”
Speaking of patience, you’re in the early stages of your relationship with the one-car Gaunt Brothers Racing team and building for the future. Is it difficult to remain patient in your new situation?
“It is. Especially for me. I’m not a very patient person. That’s the way it is, sometimes. You have to work through various circumstances. I feel very proud to have great people around me. Marty Gaunt (team owner), Toyota and their support behind us and CommScope and Coca-Cola, they’ve been with me for a long time. I feel like we have great people and great companies behind this program. So we have to be patient and keep building and keep growing. It’s still growing every week. Every time I go to the shop or to the garage, I see one new guy or two more new guys. We are still building the team. I don’t really know the number we have, now – maybe 30 people. It’s an ongoing process to keep working and building this program.”
Coming off finishes of 30th at Las Vegas and 28th at Fontana, what are your overall thoughts, so far?
“Las Vegas was actually a very good race for me. A lot of people don’t know this, but I left Las Vegas very happy. The way the team progressed and the way everything worked out after that problem in the beginning of the race, I was actually very pleased with everything. We have a lot of work to do. We are still building the team, still hiring some people and figuring out a way to get cars and stuff like that. We have to keep working. Last weekend, we felt like it was going to be tough to find speed at Fontana and that turned out to be the case. But we made the most out of everything we had to work with and had a pretty clean race from start to finish. We just need to keep learning, and taking what we learn to the next race and try and do even better there. One race at a time.”