AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico — By John Tejada, NASCAR — Photo courtesy OCESA — Daniel Suárez entered the Aguascalientes 240 in an unfamiliar position in the standings, outside the top spot, but left the Autódromo Internacional de Aguascalientes just a few tallies behind the points leader.
The NASCAR Drive for Diversity program participant and NASCAR Next alum survived a caution-heavy event en route to his 10th career NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series victory. Suárez took the lead from current NASCAR Next driver Rubén García Jr. on the restart of a green-white-checkered finish and held off Telcel teammate and current points leader Abraham Calderón for his first career victory at Aguascalientes.
The 22-year-old from Monterrey had finished second in three of his first nine career starts at the .875-mile track.
Calderón crossed the line .388 seconds behind Suárez for his third runner-up finish of the season. García Jr., who had survived several restarts throughout the afternoon, was forced to settle for third place and his first podium finish of the season. The 18-year-old from Naucalpan, Mexico, the youngest driver in the series, led the most laps on the day and was two laps away from his second career victory and second at Aguascalientes.
Last season’s Rookie of the Year Santiago Tovar crossed the line fourth for his best career finish in 26 starts. Former series champion Jorge Goeters was fifth with Hugo Oliveras, Enrique Contreras III, Elliot Van Rankin, Rubén Pardo and José González completing the top 10.
A few Desafío drivers saw their championship hopes take a hit on Saturday. Antonio Pérez was involved in a caution earlier in the afternoon but rebounded to finish in the top 15 while Homero Richards saw his day end early after an accident forced him down pit road, resulting in a 28th-place finish.
The NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series will next be in action on Oct. 19 in the Tuxtla 240 from the Súper Óvalo Chiapas. It will be the penultimate race of the 2014 season and the fourth of five Desafío events.
Calderón will head to Tuxtla with a five-point lead over Suárez in the championship standings, 1125 to 1120, with García Jr. in third at 1115 points. Rubén Pardo and Rubén Rovelo complete the top five, 14 and 18 points out of the lead respectively.