The Student Wins! Daniel Suarez Bests Kyle Busch at Michiganby Kyle Pokrefky June 11, 2016
BROOKLYN, Mich. — Countless times in his NASCAR career, Daniel Suarez has come close to victory lane, but has never quite been able to close the deal.
After Saturday’s Menards 250 at Michigan International Speedway, Suarez is winless no longer.
Suarez, driver of the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota, took his maiden NASCAR national series win in his 48th start in the XFINITY Series in dramatic fashion, besting his mentor Kyle Busch in a late duel to the checkered flag.
On record for saying that if he was to ever reach victory lane, he’d want to do it by beating Busch, Suarez was ecstatic in his post-race press conference following the win.
“Definitely it’s a win that I’ve dreamt of,” Suarez beamed. “It was a little dramatic with that last-lap pass. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it, honestly. Kyle drove me very, very clean. He couldn’t really give me a hard time – he did it a little bit, but not a lot. He gave me a little break there, because maybe he knew I was a little faster. If he was going to try to be aggressive we maybe would’ve finishing in the wall, who knows?
“I want to thank him for driving me clean and smart. I’m just very proud of everyone, I have no words to describe what I’m feeling right now.”
With his win, the Monterrey native became the first-ever Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR national series race.
Busch, the all-time winningest driver in the XFINITY Series, was surprised by the rate which his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate was catching his No. 18 NOS Energy Toyota towards the end of the race.
“We had a really good car today,” Busch said. “The NOS Energy Camry was fast and once we got out front it felt really good out there, we were able to drive away earlier in the race. Then with about 15 or 20 to go we started to drive away from those guys again.
“I didn’t know Suarez was coming like that. He had some speed and his car was really good there at the end.”
The defending winner of the Menards 250 continued by stating the pride he had in seeing his 24-year-old teammate finally break through and reach victory lane.
“Congratulations to those guys, they did a good job,” Busch continued. “I’m proud of Daniel. He’s done a lot of work and done a lot of things to try to get to this point and it’s exciting to see him get that opportunity to win an XFINITY Series race. I’d love to see him now win in a [Kyle Busch Motorsports] truck.”
Taking the checkered flag behind the Joe Gibbs Racing teammates were Paul Menard, Erik Jones, Elliott Sadler, Joey Logano, Alex Bowman, Justin Allgaier, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Brandon Jones.
With his race win, Suarez punched his ticket into the 2016 XFINITY Series Chase and extended his regular season points lead to 18 points over Sadler.
In the owners standings, Busch’s No. 18 car will retain its position atop the standings ahead of JR Motorsports’s No. 88 entry by seven points.
The XFINITY Series will head into a standalone weekend next Sunday at Iowa Speedway for the American Ethanol E15 250.
Photo Credit: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images