Daniel Suarez has dreamed for years about what it would be like when he finally earned his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory.
Saturday, Suarez’s dream turned into reality as, in storybook fashion, passed Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch with two laps to go to win Saturday’s Menards 250 at Michigan International Speedway. Suarez becomes the first Mexican driver to win a major NASCAR racing series race.
“I just have no words, I can’t speak English or Spanish right now,” an emotional Suarez — a native of Monterrey, Mexico — told Fox Sports 1 in victory lane. “I have no words to describe what I’m feeling right now.”
It looked like Busch would be in control all the way to the checkered flag, but Suarez began a rally with about seven laps left and continued to pass drivers between himself and the race-leading Busch.
“This machine is unbelievable and was unbelievable fast,” Suarez said. “To win this weekend alongside my friend Erik Jones, and the loss of his dad, I would like to dedicate this victory to Erik and his family.”
Suarez timed it perfectly, passing Busch with two laps left and then held off a late surge by the defending Sprint Cup champion to take the win. Suarez becomes the sixth foreign-born driver to win in the Xfinity Series, but only the second to do so on an oval racetrack.
Busch finished second, followed by Paul Menard, Erik Jones and Elliott Sadler. Jones revealed before the race that he was driving with a heavy heart, as his father passed away on Tuesday after a short battle with cancer.
HOW SUAREZ WON: While Kyle Busch had the strongest car of the race, leading an event-high 88 laps, Suarez had the strongest car in the final 10 laps. Suarez passed Busch with two laps to go and was not to be denied in earning his first career Xfinity Series win. Suarez led only a total of four laps, but the most important was the last lap.
WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD DAY: Even though he finished second, Busch was the class of the field for almost all of the 125-lap race. He battled racetrack temperatures of 120-plus degrees that ere compounded by air conditioning problems inside his Toyota Camry. … Also, Paul Menard had a strong car to finish third, but just didn’t have enough at the end to either hold off Suarez or catch Busch. … Erik Jones finished fourth despite grieving over the death of his father Dave, who passed away after a brief battle with cancer on Tuesday.
WHO HAD A BAD DAY: It was a rough day for several Xfinity Seres regulars, including Dakoda Armstrong (finished 24th), Joey Gase (25th) and Harrison Rhodes (26th). Others that also struggled include Josh Wise (39th) and Matt DiBenedetto (40th).
NOTABLE: Joe Gibbs Racing continues its dominance, with three of the top four finishers coming from its stable (Suarez, Busch and Erik Jones). JR Motorsports was the next most successful organization, with three drivers in the top eight (Sadler, Alex Bowman and Justin Allgaier). … Suarez becomes the ninth different winner in the Xfinity Series this season, but is also just the third full-time NXS driver to reach victor lane in 2016.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I wish he could be here. It was a good day overall. I’m going to miss him a lot.” – Erik Jones, fighting off emotion, talking on FoxSports 1 about his late father, who passed away on Tuesday.
WHAT’S NEXT: While the Sprint Cup Series will be off next weekend, there will be a standalone Xfinity Seres race next Sunday, June 19, at Iowa Speedway.