Daniel Suarez On The Upswing As NASCAR Cup Series Comes To Dover

Column By: REID SPENCER / NASCAR – DOVER, DE – Admittedly, the sample size is small, but Dover International speedway is one of Daniel Suarez’s best Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series tracks.

In his 2017 rookie season at NASCAR’s top level, Suarez qualified third and fifth and finished sixth and eighth in his two appearances at the Monster Mile. And he comes to Dover this week after consecutive results of 11th, 10th and 10th at Bristol, Richmond and Talladega, respectively.

After a sluggish start to the season, which included a crash in the Daytona 500 that knocked him out of the race on Lap 60, Suarez has climbed to 21st in the series standings over the last two weeks.

“Definitely, the first month and half of so of the season was a little rough,” Suarez said on Friday at Dover. “We had speed pretty much everywhere we were going. We just had a lot of inconsistency, and for whatever reason, we were not doing a good job putting ourselves in a good position by the end of the races—getting involved in different accidents or just not good positions.

“And I feel like I was putting maybe a little bit too much pressure on myself to try to do well. The last month or so, I’ve been just more relaxed and doing just this without expecting to be great, and things are coming our way again. The speed, like I said, has been there pretty much the entire year. It’s just the results and the consistency, but it seems like now we’re heading in the right direction.”

Suarez also believes qualifying for the Playoff is a distinct possibility.

“Playoff position? Oh, yeah, there’s plenty of time,” he said. “I feel like it’s still very early.”

JOEY LOGANO STILL IDENTIFIED WITH 2009 WRECK AT DOVER

No matter how much he’d like to, Joey Logano knows he’ll never be able to escape his spectacular past at Dover International Speedway.

Nine years ago, last Sunday’s Talladega winner was the victim of a crash that still is a focal point in video highlights of the track. Driving the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs racing at the time, Logano was turned into the outside wall and barrel-rolled five times down the high-banked concrete track, with his mangled car coming to rest on the apron.

“It is a spectacular moment here,” Logano acknowledged. “Unfortunately, when people think of Joey Logano and Dover, they think of that big crash. Even if I win, I still think people will think of that crash. That’s just what happens until someone else barrel-rolls.

“I hope that doesn’t happen to anybody. Oh, well. It was so long ago that it doesn’t bother me. It is what it is.”

It didn’t take the speedway long to incorporate Logano’s wreck into its marketing program.

“I always thought the funniest part was when I came back here the next race, and they had the race program with Miles the Monster, and it had Miles the Monster holding my car in his hand and when you moved the cover, the monster slammed my car into the ground.

“Thanks, Dover! We’re good now, though.”

 

SHORT STROKES

With the possibility of late afternoon rain in the forecast, the start of the OneMain Financial 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Dover will take place an hour earlier than originally scheduled. The race will now start at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. The change affects all other track activity before the race. Saturday’s first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice moves to 8: 30 a.m., with Xfinity Series qualifying to follow at 9:35 a.m. The 50-minute final practice for Cup drivers will start at 11 a.m., instead of noon as originally scheduled…

Jamie McMurray is none the worse for wear after his car got airborne during practice last week at Talladega, rolled six times and hit the inside catch fence on the backstretch before settling upright on the apron. In fact, he felt good enough to go on a 60-mile bike ride up North Carolina’s Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.

“It’s crazy to have a wreck that it that spectacular to watch and that many flips and tumbles and I really didn’t even have a bruise on my body,” McMurray said on Friday at Dover. “I got to look at the car on Monday, and it’s amazing how much the roll cage was smashed in, but then how everything around me was still perfect. I actually got our whole fab shop and the guys together on Tuesday when I was at the shop to thank everyone.