BROOKLYN, Mich. — Recap by Race Chaser Online New England Correspondent Kyle Souza — NASCAR photo —
It had been a long, long time coming.
Finally, after many months of trying, Daniel Suarez captured his first career NASCAR XFINITY Series victory Saturday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway in the Menards 250. Suarez overcame a speeding penalty earlier in the race and charged from fifth to the point in the final 20 laps to victory.
He passed teammate Kyle Busch coming to the white flag and never looked back, capturing the victory, his first career in NASCAR. Suarez became the first Mexican born driver to win a NASCAR National Series event.
“Everyone who helps to pull this program together, I can’t thank all of them enough and especially JGR for all the confidence they have in me,” Suarez said. “This machine was unbelievable, everyone did an amazing job. To win this weekend, I would like to dedicate the victory to Erik Jones and his family.”
For the first 12 laps, polesitter Alex Bowman had his No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at the front of the field, while outside polesitter Erik Jones hunted him down. However, after trailing behind Bowman for the first 12 circuits, Jones made a move to the inside on lap 13 down the frontstretch and took over the advantage.
From there, Jones opened an advantage on Bowman and set the pace until lap 29, when the field slowed for the first caution of the race for debris. His teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing — Kyle Busch — elected to use some pit strategy to put himself at the point for the lap 33 restart.
At green, Busch cut down in front of Jones and into the clean air and took off at the front of the field. He led the way until lap 68, when he took a hard left and put the NOS Energy Drink No. 18 Toyota onto pit road for a green flag pit stop. That started a parade of drivers coming down for service and when it was all cycled through, Busch went back to the lead with 54 laps to go.
The second caution flew just nine laps later with 45 laps to go and much like the first one, it was for debris on the track. Using strategy during the pit stop cycle under the caution, Busch’s team took just right side tires and got him back out front for the restart that came with 39 laps remaining in the Menards 250.
At green, an immediate third caution flag came over the track for a crash in turn one. Chris Cockrum spun and backed his No. 25 into the turn one fence, ending his chances at finishing the event. Busch took the outside lane at the restart with just 33 laps to go and at first, had trouble clearing second place Paul Menard — but that didn’t last long.
He jumped back to the point and back into clean air, however, all of a sudden things changed. Elliott Sadler took his N0. 1 One Main Financial Chevrolet to the lead — but only for one lap. Busch took back the point the next corner and brought Menard by with him to second, kicking Sadler back to third.
While Busch led the way out front, behind him, teammate Daniel Suarez was charging through. He went by Jones to fourth, Menard to third, then Sadler to second all in a matter of four laps and with only 10 laps left, he began chase to Busch.
From there, they say, it’s history.
A move to the inside off turn four coming to the white flag was the end for Busch, and the beginning for Suarez. For Busch, who led a race high amount of laps, it was frustration because he didn’t win, but also joy for his teammate.
“You never wanna get beat, but it’s cool when you get beat fair and square and especially by him,” Busch said. “He passed us clean and fair and square. Obviously we want to win, we had the best car for the majority of the race but it got loose the last 20 laps.”
Menard crossed the line third, with Erik Jones and Sadler behind him, rounding out the top-five. Joey Logano, Bowman, Justin Allgaier, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Brandon Jones rounded out the balance of the top-10.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series returns to action next Sunday afternoon, June 19, for the running of the American Ethanol E15 250 presented by ENOGEN at Iowa Speedway.
RESULTS: NASCAR XFINITY Series Menards 250; Michigan International Speedway; June 11, 2016
- Daniel Suarez
- Kyle Busch
- Paul Menard
- Erik Jones
- Elliott Sadler
- Joey Logano
- Alex Bowman
- Justin Allgaier
- Darrell Wallace Jr.
- Brandon Jones
- Brennan Poole
- Ryan Sieg
- Blake Koch
- Ryan Reed
- Ty Dillon
- Ross Chastain
- Garrett Smithley
- Brendan Gaughan
- Ryan Preece
- JJ Yeley
- Jeremy Clements
- Justin Marks
- Ray Black Jr.
- Dakota Armstrong
- Joey Gase
- Harrison Rhodes
- Martin Roy
- TJ Bell
- Mike Harmon
- Todd Pack
- Derrick Cope
- Chris Cockrum
- Jeff Green
- BJ McLeod
- Mario Gosselin
- Morgan Shepherd
- John Jackson
- Josh Williams
- Josh Wise
- Matt DiBennedetto
About the Writer
Kyle Souza is an aspiring Journalism major at the Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. Souza is Race Chaser Online’s New England motorsports insider, covering everything from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to the NASCAR Whelen All American Series and the PASS North Super Late Models.
When not writing, Souza works at the Seekonk Speedway as the track’s Friday night public address announcer and press writer, and is also the Media Director for both the Granite State Pro Stock Series and the Tri Track Open Modified Series.
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