In over 73 years of NASCAR racing, no driver from Mexico had ever won a Cup Series race...until Sunday.
Daniel Suárez, of Monterrey, Mexico, made history with his victory at Sonoma Raceway. The 30-year-old driver led a race-high 47 laps en route to his first career win in his 195th start.
Suárez is just the fifth driver born outside of the United States to win at NASCAR’s highest level, joining Mario Andretti (Italy), Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia), Marcos Ambrose (Australia) and Earl Ross (Canada).
From the jump, it looked like Suárez had a chance to make this a special day. He started the race in eighth place but quickly worked toward the front of the field.
Suárez first took the lead at the 12-turn Sonoma road course at lap 61, and he didn’t look back from there. Second-place finisher Chris Buescher challenged Suárez early in the final run before the No. 99 Chevrolet pulled away to win by 3.849 seconds.
This wasn’t the first time that Suárez has challenged for a Cup Series win, as he scored 11 top-five finishes in his first 194 starts while racing for top teams Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing. But the Mexican driver made a big move in 2021, moving to a brand new organization: Trackhouse Racing. That decision has paid dividends, with Suárez now clinching his first win for the team that is co-owned by music sensation Pitbull.
After winning the race, Suárez celebrated with a taco piñata before draping the Mexican flag around his back. And he did it all with a group of his fans, nicknamed “Daniel’s Amigos,” cheering him on from the grandstands.
Since making his first NASCAR national series start in the Xfinity Series in 2014, Suárez has gradually built up to this moment. He became the first Mexican to win an Xfinity Series race in 2016 before winning the series championship and getting promoted to the Cup Series.
While Sunday’s win is monumental for the driver, his home country and the sport, Suárez still thinks the best is yet to come.
“This is the first of many,” Suárez proclaimed in his post-race interview after delivering a message in Spanish to his friends and family.
His next chance at victory will come in two weeks (June 26) at Nashville Superspeedway, as NBC takes over from FOX to broadcast the second half of the 2022 NASCAR season.