Trackhouse Racing, Daniel Suarez deliver top 10 at ‘hometown’ track

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LEBANON, Tenn. — For as significant as Sunday’s sold-out first Cup race at Nashville Superspeedway was for NASCAR, it was as important for one team.

Trackhouse Racing car owner Justin Marks said he wants to relocate the team to Nashville, Tennessee, leading into the 2023 season. He secured a Nashville honky tonk as the car’s sponsor this weekend and held an event in downtown Nashville this week.

The team responded with its third top-10 finish of the season, placing seventh to winner Kyle Larson.

“I think there was a lot of pressure on us,” crew chief Travis Mack told NBC Sports. “We had a lot of people here, Kid Rock, (co-owner) Pitbull, brought out all the celebrities for this race and kind of like our hometown for Trackhouse. I’m just glad to put on a good showing for Justin and his family.”

Buoyed by fresher tires than many in the field, Suarez gained 14 positions in the last 70 laps to score his first top 10 since finishing ninth at Dover last month.

“It was good, a solid day,” Suarez told NBC Sports. “The car was good enough to finish right there in the top 10. … I don’t know why, but in the last couple of runs we just lost some grip in the front. I don’t know if it was the racetrack or what.

“These guys did a very good job of making adjustments. The car was fast. We showed that a couple of times. Just got to keep digging.”

That’s what this team had to do this weekend after struggling in Saturday’s practice.

“When we fired off, I thought we were in trouble,” Suarez said. “We had to make a lot of adjustments.”

Suarez’s performance Sunday moved him past Bubba Wallace into 21st in the driver points and moved Trackhouse Racing past 23XI Racing in the owner points.

That puts Trackhouse Racing ahead of the other two new Cup teams: 23XI Racing and Live Fast Motorsports.

“It’s funny,” Mack said, “Daniel is talking about being disappointed with (finishing) seventh. … That’s the way we’ve been. We get top 10s and we’re still disappointed. We’ll keep digging and we always want more.”

The performance came on a weekend that Suarez mourned the death of Skip Eyler, who was his crew chief in the K&N Pro Series East in 2013-14 and played an instrumental part in his career.

“We didn’t have a lot of budget and he made a lot with a little,” Suarez said of Eyler in the K&N series. “I was trying to make a lot with a little as well. We won a few races and that gave us the opportunity to go to the national series.

“He was a very hard-working person. Good family person. I just make friends through my career and he was one of them. We stayed in touch the entire time. … He was probably one of my biggest fans.

“Early in the year, he got cancer. He got surgery and everything went good. He had COVID. He went through COVID. He made it through and a few weeks ago, he got the return of the cancer.”