Daniel Suarez loses control causing a multi-car wreck in the Alert Today Florida 300 at Daytona International Speedway.
Joe Gibbs Racing ride could be the start of something big Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Daniel Suarez seems to have a sense of how big a leap he's about to make up the NASCAR ladder, but even then, it's still a jump that's difficult for him to grasp. One year ago, Suarez was competing on a makeshift 0.4-mile oval on the backstretch of Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. This year, the 23-year-old driver will be stretching his legs on the full 2.5-mile layout as he opens his first full season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. "Everything is new," Suarez said last Thursday during NASCAR Media Day. "Sometimes I don't even know the level of what I'm getting into, but it's great to be learning about the best drivers, the best race teams, the best brands. It's just a great opportunity of life. I believe this kind of opportunity you get just once in life, and maybe this is mine. I need to try to work 100 percent to make something good happen from this." Suarez's superspeedway debut comes Saturday in the XFINITY season-opening Alert Today Florida 300 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), but he already has Daytona to thank in part for helping him get his big break. Last February, Suarez prevailed in the Battle at the Beach on the temporary backstretch circuit, right on the heels of a victory at nearby New Smyrna Speedway -- his second K&N win in a span of three days. Those consecutive wins -- combined with his portfolio of 10 victories in three seasons in the NASCAR Toyota Mexico Series -- helped attract the eye of Joe Gibbs Racing, which backed Suarez's XFINITY debut in April at Richmond International Raceway and will field the No. 18 Toyota for him in all 33 races this season. "I think winning is everything," said Suarez , a product of the NASCAR Next youth initiative. "I think if you win races, your name starts getting around and people start knowing more about you and people start getting interested. When I got those two wins at the start of the season, I started getting more opportunities and we started thinking and talking more about 2015. I believe that definitely was a good step to being where we are right now." Suarez moved from his native Mexico to North Carolina three years ago, not just to be closer to the hub of stock-car racing teams but to learn English as a second language. All the while, he continued to compete full time in the Mexico Series, creating a travel and logistics high-wire act with frequent trips between the United States and his homeland. His 2015 slate doesn't include any Mexico Series events, meaning visits to his hometown of Monterrey will come at a far less frequent rate. Instead, Suarez hopes his family will be able to make the trip stateside to see him race. "They're so happy and proud of all this," Suarez said. "My family doesn't come from racing, so this is kind of new for everyone. This is something new that we're exploring, so definitely it's a good experience." To help accelerate his learning process, Suarez plans to compete in 13 races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in Kyle Busch Motorsports' No. 51 Toyota, primarily to gain experience at tracks where he's yet to turn a wheel. It's a hefty increase in his workload, which to date consists of just three career starts at the NASCAR national series level. Should the sharp trajectory up the NASCAR ranks continue on its current arc, the top-tier Sprint Cup Series might not be that far off. But Suarez demurs at the suggestion, saying it's too early to forecast such a plan. "I wish," Suarez said with a grin. "We can talk about that right now, but maybe it's not the time. The XFINITY Series is the most important thing right now. Definitely after we progress, after we can be competitive and win some races in the XFINITY Series, that is going to come to our team. For now, it's not in the conversations, but I believe it will come in the timing of the moment." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Six cars involved in crash during opening round of qualifying Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live A six-car wreck brought out a red flag during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Drivers involved included Daniel Suarez , Landon Cassill, Harrison Rhodes, Blake Koch, Carlos Contreras and Tanner Berryhill. The pileup came about at the end of the second group participating in the first round of group qualifying before the season-opening Alert Today Florida 300, 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1. Suarez appears to be heading to his backup car. The @ARRISEVERYWHERE backup car is being unloaded. Several parts will need to be swapped. 18 team will be busy. pic.twitter.com/aU1bHQHYus — Boris for JGR (@JoeGibbsRacing) February 21, 2015 The melee also stirred up sentiment from drivers that the new knockout qualifying format is not suited for tracks like Daytona. "This is not what it needs to be," Kyle Busch said to FOX Sports 1 about group qualifying shortly after the wreck. "Somehow, someway, this isn't right." Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted that he hoped everyone was OK following the wreck as his team waited to see if it would make the race. Hope all is well after that accident. Seen a few hit hard. Now we sit and wait and see if we make the show. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) February 21, 2015 Shortly after the wreck qualifying was put on hold due to bad weather in the area. This story will be updated. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Dillon nabbed second, third-place finishes in adjacent Truck, XFINITY races Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live HAMPTON, Ga. -- Double-duty. From Joe Gibbs Racing 's Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth to Team Penske 's Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano , plenty of NASCAR's biggest names have routinely raced in multiple national series events for many of the season's weekends for years. Richard Childress Racing XFINITY Series driver Ty Dillon has gotten a taste of that each of the first two weeks of the season thus far, running all three races at Daytona -- including his first Daytona 500 start -- followed by the XFINITY / Camping World Truck Series Hisense 250 /Hyundai Construction Parts 200 double-header at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday. Dillon wasn't alone in doing so, as he was joined by Erik Jones , Daniel Suarez , John Wes Townley , Ryan Sieg and Morgan Shepherd in the 450-mile, two-race conquest. Where his feats did stand out, however, were at the front of the pack. The 23-year-old finished third in the XFINITY race -- behind race-winning Sprint Cup Series champ Kevin Harvick and Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano -- and second in the Truck Series race -- behind two-time defending series champ Matt Crafton . Not too shabby. "When you can come out of a race track like Atlanta, that's so tough to drive, with two top-three finishes in two of the top-three series, it's awesome," Dillon said following the Truck Series race. "I'm very happy with the way the day went. "It was nice running two of everything and making it to the media center twice. I thought I'd sit in Joey (Logano)'s chair this time; he's had some good luck so I'm sitting where he sat during the last (post-race press conference following the XFINITY race) … I've always dreamed of being a driver who runs multiple series in a weekend; hopefully in the Sprint Cup Series and XFINITY and Trucks." Dillon will be competing for the driver's championship in the XFINITY Series, but will have a shot at plenty of trophies and Victory Lane celebrations between his occasional Cup and Truck starts remaining this season. The most valuable thing he'll take away from these additional races, however, is the experience. Saturday's races gave him a front row seat to what that looks like. "Obviously, we were racing against a guy who just won the Daytona 500 and two guys who were just battling for the ( Sprint Cup Series) championship, so they obviously know what they're doing," Dillon said of Logano and Harvick, respectively, who have 80 combined XFINITY and Truck Series victories between them. "You see them in front of you, you get hungry. You want to get up there and battle with those guys, but hopefully down the road when I gain more experience, I'll be able to compete a little bit better in that situation, but I was proud of our run. "All in all, the circumstances, maybe a couple more restarts and we might've been able to race with them a little bit harder, but it is what it is. They're pretty dang good here. I think Harvick's won just about every time he's raced here, so I'm proud of our effort and hopefully next year we come back and we'll be able to race with them." Dillon will get another shot at doubling down this weekend in Sin City, when the RCR driver gets behind the wheel of his No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro in Saturday's Boyd Gaming 300 (4 p.m. ET, FS1) and the No. 33 Chevrolet SS in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . "It's a great feeling to start the season off on back-to-back third place finishes," Dillon said. "It gives us a lot of confidence and I wouldn't be surprised if we go compete for a win next week in Las Vegas." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Jones, Hayley also post top speeds Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: See full practice results HAMPTON, Ga. -- After propelling his No. 29 Toyota at 178.695 mph around Atlanta Motor Speedway, BK Racing team owner Brad Keselowski soared to the top of the leaderboard during Friday's final NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice for the Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 (Saturday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m. ET, FS1). Kyle Busch Motorsports' Erik Jones came in second, circling the Georgia track at 178.677 mph in his No. 4 Toyota. ThorSport Racing's Cameron Hayley made a late run during the session, ultimately propelling his No. 13 ride to third-fastest on the board with a top speed of 178.482 mph. Kyle Busch Motorsports' Daniel Suarez and Athenian Motorsports' John Wes Townley rounded out the top five, recording high speeds of 178.040 mph and 177.903 mph, respectively. Halfway through the session, Ray Black Jr. scraped the wall in Turn 2 in his No. 07 Team Scuba Chevrolet. Cody Ware followed up the incident with a loss of power in his No. 50 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet, which brought out the caution flag for the second time during the two-hour session. The yellow flag was displayed earlier in practice for debris. Black and Ware ended up with 21st and 25th-place rankings on the leaderboard, respectively. The Camping World Truck Series is back on the track on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 10:40 a.m. for Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, with coverage on FOX Sports 1. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
fred's 250 will be run on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET (FOX) RELATED: Complete entry list for Talladega " VIDEO: NASCAR celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month Milka Duno and Daniel Suarez will make their first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts in the fred's 250 at Talladega Superspeedway . Both drivers are on the entry list for the event, with Duno slated to drive the No. 1 Truck and Suarez behind the wheel of the No. 35 entry. The 42-year-old Duno, a native of Venezuela, has been on the entry list for four Nationwide Series events, but she failed to qualify for two races and withdrew from a third. She made her NASCAR national series debut earlier this month at Kansas Speedway and finished 40th after a crash three laps into the event took her out of the race. Suarez has made two starts this season in the Nationwide Series with a best finish of 15th place at Chicagoland Speedway last month. However, this is his first foray into the Truck Series. The 22-year-old NASCAR Next alumnus from Monterrey, Mexico, who has five wins in the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series and is five points behind Abraham Calderon with two races remaining, is set to drive full time for Joe Gibbs Racing next season in the XFINITY Series as well part time for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series. The fred's 250 will be run on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on FOX. It is the 18th event of the season in the series. Defending series champion Matt Crafton holds a 19-point lead over his ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter coming into the event. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Kennedy was the only driver to log lap in final round RELATED: Full race lineup Ben Kennedy won the Keystone Light Pole Award on Saturday for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (5:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). This is the Red Horse Racing driver's first pole award at Atlanta and the first of his Camping World Truck Series career. Kennedy was the only driver who made it to the start/finish line in time to log a lap in the third round of qualifying. Initially, Brad Keselowski was ruled to have started his lap -- which was quicker than Kennedy's -- and was announced as the pole winner before the reversal came later in the afternoon. Lining up next to Kennedy on the front row is Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Erik Jones Cameron Hayley, Daniel Suarez and John Wes Townley round out the top-five starters. Last week's winner at Daytona, Tyler Reddick, qualified 11th. Matt Crafton, the defending Camping World Truck Series champion, will line up 15th. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Alan Cavanna talks with Daniel Suarez about his recent success in the NASCAR K&N Series and Mexico Series.
The top finishers in the Hyndai Construction 200, Ben Kennedy, Ty Dillon, Tyler Reddick and Daniel Suarez talk about the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Daniel Suarez says his opportunity to join JGR full-time in 2015 is a dream come true. He will also run a partial NCWTS schedule with KBM and new sponsor Arris.