Daniel Suarez: ‘The potential is there’ at Trackhouse


Potential can be dangerous. It speaks of what could be, not what is. A tantalizing prospect of success that isn’t guaranteed, but must be earned.

It’s also the word that Daniel Suarez uses the most to describe his new team, Trackhouse Racing, which is just four NASCAR Cup Series races old.

Their inaugural race, the season-opening Daytona 500, ended just 13 laps in thanks to a big crash. Two top-20 finishes followed: A 16th-place finish at the Daytona road course where Suarez overcame in-car sickness and a 15th-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Last week, according to Suarez, their simulator set-up for Las Vegas didn’t match up well with his No. 99 Chevrolet. It led to a 26th-place finish.

Suarez, a five-year Cup veteran, is optimistic about what lies ahead for Trackhouse. But he knows it will take time for the organization, co-owned by Justin Marks and musician Pitbull, to become a contender.

“I’m the kind of person that always tries to focus on the things that are bad, instead of the things that are good,” Suarez said during a Thursday teleconference. “I see that things are good, and I say, ‘Okay, that’s good. Now let’s work on the things that are not so good.’ I’ve been working very hard … to try to be better in communication with the spotter and the whole group because it’s a brand new group.

“I feel the potential is there. But there are a lot of little things that we’re going to have to clean up to be able to be consistently in the top 15, top 10, and eventually, hopefully, be knocking on the door to race for wins.”

As the team continues to jell, the car’s raw speed has varied according to Suarez: A little faster than expected one week, a little slower than expected on another.

A lack of practice sessions at the track isn’t helping. Suarez says those sessions would be “golden” and help his team avoid mismatches like the one they had in Las Vegas.

“We get to practice on the simulator, put that set-up on the real car, go to the race track and hope for the best,” he said. “If for some reason the simulator was off, we’re going to be off the rest of the day in the race.”

A sign of promise, however, has come on pit road. Following his run at Miami, Suarez was enthused with the work of his over-the-wall crew.

“They have a lot of potential and I’m very happy to see that,” Suarez said at the time, using that word again. “I haven’t had that in probably two years.”

The group includes tire changers Ira Jo Hussey and Chris McMullen, tire carrier Lamar Neal, jack man Courtney Edmunds, and fueler James Kelley.

On Thursday, Suarez elaborated further about the group.

“They are inconsistent, but they are fast, which is good,” he said. “I always thought it’s much easier to be fast and try to work on inconsistency than being consistent and slow and trying to work on speed. I have had good people in the past, but in 2017 and ’18 (with Joe Gibbs Racing), I had more loose wheels in those two years. So, it’s been difficult.

“Don’t get me wrong. All these guys work extremely hard for what they do and how they push themselves, but sometimes, it’s a combination of many things. And it’s been a little bit difficult for me on pit road in the last several years. I was very excited to see I gained, like, four positions (in Miami). I haven’t done that in years.”

It’s progress, which is all that can be asked for right now.

Next up is Phoenix Raceway, where Suarez has won in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (2016) and NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series (2014).

A win for Suarez this weekend isn’t likely. But if he and Trackhouse have their way, one day, it will be.

At that point, potential will have become success.

NASCAR Cup playoff standings after Coca-Cola 600


The severe penalty to Chase Briscoe and his Stewart-Haas Racing team Wednesday for a counterfeit part dropped Briscoe from 17th to 31st in the season standings. Briscoe now must win a race to have a chance at the playoffs.

The penalty came a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for his retaliation in wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600. Elliott is 28th in the points. The 2020 Cup champion also needs to win to have a chance to make the playoffs.

Ten drivers have won races, including Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney. That leaves six playoff spots to be determined by points at this time. With 12 races left in the regular season, including unpredictable superspeedway races at Atlanta (July 9) and Daytona (Aug. 26), the playoff standings will change during the summer.

Among those without a win this season are points leader Ross Chastain and former champions Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Elliott.

Here’s a look at the Cup playoff standings heading into Sunday’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. Drivers in yellow have won a race and are in a playoff position. Those below the red line after 16th place are outside a playoff spot in the graphic below.

NASCAR issues major penalties to Chase Briscoe team for Charlotte infraction


NASCAR fined crew chief John Klausmeier $250,000 and suspended him six races, along with penalizing Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team 120 points and 25 playoff points each for a counterfeit part on the car.

The issue was a counterfeit engine NACA duct, said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, on Wednesday. That is a single-source part.

MORE: Updated Cup playoff standings

The team stated that it accepts the L3 penalty.

“We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should’ve been on a car going to the racetrack ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte,” said Greg Zipadelli in a statement from the team. “We accept NASCAR’s decision and will not appeal.”

Asked how then piece could have aided performance, Sawyer said Wednesday: “Knowing the race team mentality, they don’t do things that would not be a benefit to them in some way, shape or form from a performance advantage.”

The penalty drops Briscoe from 17th in the season standings to 31st in the standings. Briscoe goes from having 292 points to having 172 points. He’ll have to win to make the playoffs. Briscoe has no playoff points at this time, so the penalty puts him at -25 playoff points should he make it.

Briscoe’s car was one of two taken to the R&D Center after Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 for additional tear down by series officials.

The penalty comes a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Championship Weekend returns to Phoenix in 2024


Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.

This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.



Drivers to watch at World Wide Technology Raceway


After the fireworks from the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR heads to World Wide Technology Raceway, a 1.25-mile speedway just outside of St. Louis. Sunday’s race (3:30 p.m. ET on FS1) marks the second time the Cup Series has raced at this track.

Much is at stake. The race to win the regular season championship has intensified. Tempers are high. The pressure to make the playoffs builds. Ten drivers have wins this season. Twelve races remain in the regular season.


Kyle Larson

  • Points position: 11th
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Richmond, Martinsville)
  • Past at WWTR: 12th last year

While a driver coming off back-to-back finishes of 20th or worse might not seem like a frontrunner, it actually does make Larson one. His topsy-turvy season has seen him place outside the top 10 in back-to-back races four times. In the three previous times he had consecutive finishes outside the top 10, he came back to finish second, first and second. Can he keep that streak going this weekend?

Bubba Wallace

  • Points position: 15th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Las Vegas I, Kansas I, Coca-Cola 600)
  • Past at WWTR: 26th last year

Wallace has scored three consecutive top-five finishes, his best streak in his Cup career. He has climbed from 21st to 15th in the standings during this run.

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Darlington I)
  • Past at WWTR: 19th last year

Byron has finished no worse than seventh in the last five races. He’s led nearly 20% of the laps run during that time. Byron has averaged nearly 47 points a race during that streak.


Corey LaJoie

  • Points position: 20th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Atlanta I)
  • Past at WWTR: 36th last season

NASCAR’s one-race suspension to Chase Elliott gives LaJoie the chance to drive a Hendrick Motorsports car for the first time. This will be the best car LaJoie has driven in his career. Many eyes will be on him to see how he does.

Ross Chastain

Chastain has finished 29th and 22nd in the last two points races. He’s not gone more than three races without a top-10 finish this season. After his struggles last weekend at Charlotte, Chastain saw his lead cut to one point over Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney in the standings. Five drivers are within 17 points of Chastain in the season standings.

Aric Almirola

  • Points position: 26th
  • Best finish this season: 6th (Martinsville I)
  • Past at WWTR: 5th last year

Almirola has finished 13th or worse in all but one race this season for Stewart-Haas Racing. In the five races since placing sixth at Martinsville, Almirola has finished an average of 21.0.