Suárez 26th in Pocono Doubleheader Nightcap
Date: June 28, 2020
Event: Pocono 350 (Round 15 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (2.5-mile triangle)
Format: 140 laps, broken into three stages (30 laps/55 laps/55 laps)
Start/Finish: 28th / 26th (Running, completed 139 of 140 laps)
Point Standing: 31st with 142 points
Race Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-30):
- Started 28th, finished 23rd.
- After a more than 30-minute lightning delay forced competitors to abort their pace laps just prior to the start of the race, Suárez and his CommScope Toyota took the green flag 28th but fell back to 32nd by the time the caution flag flew on lap three for rain. The race was red-flagged on lap six to wait out the delay and to dry the track, and it resumed under caution 50 minutes later, going back to green on lap 11 with Suárez restarting 35th after pitting to repair a radio antenna on the last caution lap.
- The caution flag appeared once again for a single-car incident on lap 15 with Suárez running 31st. He pitted during the caution to remove packers from both sides of the front end to help alleviate a tight condition on entry and loose off. He restarted 32nd on lap 18.
- Suárez crossed the line in 23rd at the stage break. He pitted for tires, fuel, left-side and right-rear air pressure adjustments, and right-side track bar adjustments. He said he was still losing a lot of ground in turn two.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 31-85):
- Started 25th, finished 24th.
- Suárez restarted 25th on lap 36 and he dropped three spots to 28th by the time the caution flag flew for a single-car incident on lap 39. He pitted for fuel only during the caution.
- The race went back to green on lap 44 with Suárez restarting 22nd, and he had dropped six spots to 28th by the time the caution flag flew for another single-car incident on the very next lap. He pitted during the caution to top off the fuel tank and restarted 26th when the race went back to green on lap 50.
- Suárez was running 24th when the caution flag flew for a single-car incident on lap 76, just nine laps from the stage break. He reported his CommScope Toyota was good in turns one and three, still struggling in turn two, and pitted during the caution for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments. He restarted 24th on lap 79.
- The caution flag flew before the end of the restart lap for another single-car incident while Suárez held onto his 24th position. He stayed on track and restarted 21st on lap 83 and crossed the finish line 24th when the caution flag flew to end the stage. He pitted during the break for four tires, slight air pressure and wedge adjustments and to top off the fuel tank.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 86-140):
- Started 28th, finished 26th.
- Like Saturday’s final stage, today’s was green from its start on lap 89 to its conclusion on lap 140. Suárez and the team were banking on the race being called short of its scheduled distance due to darkness, planning to make it to that point on fuel.
- While several cars ahead of him running different strategies came down pit road at various times during the middle laps of the stage, Suárez worked his way up to 18th place on a pair of occasions.
- He was 22nd when he finally pitted for a splash of fuel on lap 133, just seven laps from the scheduled race finish, and he took the checkered flag 26th, one lap down.
Daniel Suárez, driver of the No. 96 CommScope Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing:
“The balance of our CommScope Toyota was OK in turns one and three, but unfortunately we were still struggling in turn two, especially in the first 10 or 15 laps of the run. Obviously, we’re lacking overall speed, but we’ll just keep on digging. It was a good job by the guys all weekend. We just need to keep digging and we’ll get there.”
- Denny Hamlin won the Pocono 350 to score his 41st career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his series-leading fourth of the season and his record-tying sixth at Pocono. His margin of victory over second-place Kevin Harvick was 3.068 seconds.
- There were eight caution periods for a total of 31 laps.
- Only 17 of the 40 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
- Harvick remains the championship leader after Pocono with a 52-point advantage over second-place Ryan Blaney.
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule for Suárez and the Gaunt Brothers Racing team is the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 on Sunday, July 5 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race starts at 4 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.