Daniel Suarez: Welcome to the Club
Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California is the next stop for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. It marks the third and final race of the “West Coast Swing” for NASCAR’s top two touring series and the final race before both the Xfinity and Sprint Cup tours enjoy the week off in observance of the Easter holiday.
As the founding partner and “Official Battery of Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR),” Interstate Batteries has been powering the team for 25 years. Since 1992, JGR’s first full season in NASCAR, Interstate Batteries has played an integral role in the organization’s development from start-up race team to championship powerhouse. Suarez is just the latest driver to join the past and present lineup of Hall of Fame, championship and race-winning drivers that includes Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano.
Saturday’s TreatMyClot.com 300 Xfinity Series race is the first of two in which Suarez will race the colors of Interstate Batteries. The October race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway is the other.
And although the 2016 Xfinity Series season is still in its infancy, Suarez looks poised to assume a few of the monikers used to describe his Team Interstate Batteries counterparts.
The native of Monterrey, Mexico goes into the TreatMyClot.com 300 race weekend as the championship points leader. It is the second consecutive week for Suarez to lead the series. He started his 2016 campaign with four consecutive finishes of eighth place or better, including a runner-up finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway two weeks ago and a third-place effort last week at Phoenix International Raceway. He owns an eight-point lead over second-place Elliott Sadler and aims to tighten his grasp on the top spot at a track Suarez labeled as one of the most challenging he faced during his rookie season in 2015.
— Interstate Batteries (@interstatebatts) March 13, 2016
For his part, Suarez’s trip to the sweeping, 2-mile Southern California track last season for the Xfinity Series event is his lone start at Fontana in any series. Any challenges that may have thwarted Suarez were somewhat masked by the respectable 13th-place finish he earned after starting ninth. He will be looking to improve upon the top-15 effort from 2015 at Fontana – something he’s done at the majority of tracks he’s had the opportunity to visit for a second time.
Dating back to last October’s race at Dover, Suarez has finished 10th or better in the last 10 Xfinity Series events. And all but the event at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City came at tracks Suarez visited for at least a second time.
It’s a trend that Suarez intends to not only continue this weekend in Fontana but also potentially top by scoring his first career victory in Xfinity Series competition.
Daniel Suarez, Driver of the No. 19 Interstate Batteries NASCAR Xfinity Series Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What challenges does Auto Club Speedway present?
“Fontana is a lot of fun. It’s a big racetrack – 2 miles and not a lot of grip, but it has been pretty fun. I had the pleasure to spend a few days over there with the media a couple of weeks ago. It seems like everyone is super excited to have us over there. Like I said, for me, this whole trip to the West Coast with everyone has been great and unbelievable so far this year. We’re just looking forward to keep going with what we are doing right now with the good momentum on the West Coast and are looking forward to getting our first win.”
— XFINITY Racing (@XFINITYRacing) March 12, 2016
You’re going back to a lot of these tracks for just a second time. Is that a lot easier than the initial visit?
“For sure, it is. I would like to say that California was one of the toughest racetracks that I had last year – for grip, it was fast, it was early in the season, and I didn’t have a lot of experience at that point. So it was tough. Right now, it’s one of the racetracks I’m really looking forward to because I think that racetrack was a challenge for myself and I want to see how much we’ve improved from last year at a track that was pretty challenging for us.”
What does it mean to you to have the Interstate Batteries colors on your car this weekend?
“It’s very exciting. I have very supportive sponsors and now Interstate Batteries has come on board with us. They have meant a lot to Joe Gibbs and the whole race team and being where we are today. This is the 25th anniversary and I’m just super excited to have them on board for California.”