With the NASCAR Cup Series regular season nearing its end, the 10 playoff tracks loom large – a string of 10 wildly different speedways that will put every driver and team to the test.
The mad scientists who develop the Cup schedule worked overtime to come up with this mix. There is the ancient challenge of Darlington Raceway – and that’s just for starters. Kansas and Bristol make up the rest of the first round, and each offers its own unique challenge.
Round 2 has a staggering blend of high-speed superspeedways (Texas and Talladega) and the touch-and-go intensity of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
Two very different 1.5-mile tracks (Las Vegas and Homestead) are in Round 3, along with the short-track marathon that is Martinsville.
And, of course, Phoenix Raceway closes out the year with the Championship 4.
Trackhouse Racing driver Daniel Suarez has the talent and experience to succeed on all of these tracks, and he and the 99 team are eyeing what’s on the late-season agenda even as they roll through the final weeks of the regular-season schedule wrestling for one of the 16 playoff spots.
Last season, Suarez finished 10th in the final seasonal standings, easily the best result of his six-year Cup career. A victory at Sonoma Raceway was the key element in positioning Suarez for a run at the top 10.
As he has navigated the twists and turns of the NASCAR schedule over the years, Suarez has shown skill and expertise on every sort of racing landscape. His best runs this season have come on an impressive variety of tracks: fifth at California Speedway, eighth at Martinsville Speedway, fifth at Gateway and seventh in the first race on the tricky Chicago Street Course.
Over the seven-race stretch from the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Suarez finished on the lead lap every week while scoring a pair of top-10 runs.
Suarez has made a steady climb in the motorsports world since winning a national go-kart championship in 2007. He was NASCAR’s Mexico Series Rookie of the Year in 2010 and the series’ championship runnerup in 2013. His successes in Mexico led him to NASCAR national-series racing in the United States, and he rapidly cashed in on the opportunity, winning the Xfinity Series Rookie of the Year award in 2015 and claiming the Xfinity championship in 2016, becoming the first international champion in NASCAR national touring series history.
Continuing dedication to his craft typically puts Suarez in the top 10 in the closing laps of races. He has led this season at Daytona, Circuit of the Americas, Martinsville, Talladega and Nashville – a spread of very difficult tracks and an obvious indication of his versatility.