Introducing ‘Fun With Perfection’ – Cherry Vanilla Coke
MOORESVILLE, North Carolina (March 11, 2020) – Daniel Suárez and the iconic Coca-Cola brand have enjoyed a fun and flavorful relationship dating back to the Mexican driver’s first full season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2015. They celebrated an Xfinity Series championship together in 2016, and their partnership has grown to be as strong as ever through what is now Suárez’s fourth season in the top-tier NASCAR Cup Series.
This weekend, Suárez will help introduce a brand new flavor combination when he gets behind the wheel of his No. 96 Cherry Vanilla Coke Toyota for Gaunt Brothers Racing (GBR) during the Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, just down the road from Coca-Cola headquarters.
Cherry Vanilla Coke may be the newest addition to the company’s product lineup, but research shows it’s a pair of flavors its fans have combined on their own using the already existing Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke products – the equivalent of more than 105 million cans of “Cherry Vanilla Coke” since 2017. That’s nearly a can a minute over a three-year span, and the research shows the combination has proven to be most popular on Christmas Day and the month of April.
With their racecar adorned with the colorful Cherry Vanilla Coke paint scheme, one of the newest driver-and-team combinations in the NASCAR Cup Series – Suárez and GBR – look to continue their inaugural, full-season run together at the fast, 1.5-mile Atlanta oval. They’re coming off the annual three-race West Coast Swing, where they showed steady progress with finishes of 30th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 28th at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, and 21st at Phoenix Raceway.
This weekend, they’ll take to the track where, in his three previous Cup Series appearances, Suárez has a best start of fourth in 2018 with Joe Gibbs Racing and a best finish of 10th from the fifth starting position last season with Stewart-Haas Racing. In two Xfinity Series outings at Atlanta, both with the Gibbs team, he has a best start of third and best finish of seventh, both en route to the series title in 2016. In a pair of NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races at Atlanta, he has a best start and finish of fourth in 2015 driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Crew chief Dave Winston, a native of Miami, Florida, and a veteran of 62 Cup Series races atop the pitbox, called the shots at two previous races at Atlanta. He collaborated with driver Alex Bowman in the No. 23 BK Racing Toyota in the 2014 race, starting 30th and finishing 35th. His driver Michael McDowell started 32nd and finished 33rd in the 2016 race driving the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing entry.
This weekend marks the second Atlanta Cup Series start for the No. 96 GBR Toyota. In the 2019 race, driver Parker Kligerman drove it to a 30th-place finish from the 34th starting position.
With the colors of the exciting new flavor combination adorning his racecar and firesuit and a legion of Coca-Cola associates and guests rooting them on at their home track, Suárez and his GBR teammates hope to take a giant step forward this weekend at Atlanta after showing steady progress in their first four weekends together this season.
DANIEL SUÁREZ, Driver of the No. 96 Cherry Vanilla Coke Toyota for Gaunt Brothers Racing:
You’re introducing the brand new Cherry Vanilla Coke flavor combination at Atlanta this weekend. What does that mean to you?
“Coca-Cola has supported me since 2015 and it’s definitely an honor to be representing such an iconic brand that’s so popular all over the world. I grew up enjoying Coca-Cola in Mexico and I never dreamed I’d be driving a racecar for them in the U.S. It’s very exciting to have the unique Cherry Vanilla Coke paint scheme on my racecar and on my firesuit this weekend. We’ll be doing a lot of really cool things with the Coca-Cola folks this week, leading up to the race. We’ll also have an on-board camera on our racecar all weekend. So I hope we can give them our best result of the season on Sunday.”
What’s the key to posting a good result at Atlanta Motor Speedway?
“It’s a very fast mile-and-a-half oval and the surface is very old and very hard on the tires. So you have to have a well-balanced racecar that will make it possible to get the most out of your tire wear each run. You can usually run the top and the bottom of the racetrack, so you have to find where you’re going to get the most out of the car. All of that is why the races at Atlanta are always so exciting.”
You and the team nearly scored your first top-20 finish in just your fourth race weekend together Sunday at Phoenix. How do you feel about the progress you’ve been making?
“The best thing about this team is all the great support we are getting from Coca-Cola, CommScope and Toyota, and we know that there will be a day when we will be competing for race wins with them. It’s obviously very early and everyone has very realistic expectations, considering this is a one-car team that is running the full season for the first time. I’ve said all along that the goal is to go out every weekend and do better than we did last weekend. So far, the results at the end of the race have shown that. But, believe me, it’s a very challenging process and we just have to keep working hard.”