Dave Burns

Splash & Go: Daniel Suarez: ‘Keep being nice to me and we’ll be fine’

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While talking with NASCAR America’s Dave Burns for this week’s “Splash & Go,” Daniel Suarez had a clear message for his competitors in the Cup Series.

“Keep being nice to me and we’ll be fine,” Suarez said.

Or as Dr. Bruce Banner, aka the Incredible Hulk, would say: don’t make him angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

Michael McDowell found this out on Friday when his confrontation with Suarez on pit road during qualifying at ISM Raceway resulted in Suarez throwing him to the ground and then Suarez being held on the hood of McDowell’s car.

The scuffle was the product of McDowell impeding the path of Suarez during his qualifying run, which Stewart-Haas Racing had planned for days due the importance of track position on the 1-mile track.

“We had a big plan for Friday,” Suarez told NBC Sports. “Maybe like never before. To get screwed the way we did. Five days of preparation for one day and to get screwed like that, I wasn’t very happy. My team wasn’t happy and they were not expecting me to react the way I did. But I wasn’t very happy with how things worked out.”

Suarez, who wound up qualifying 28th, had left pit road with three minutes left in the first round. That should have been “plenty of time” to make his run.

“We were pushing it, but we were not pushing it too hard,” Suarez said. “Because it was the first round. I knew that I needed to race that lap 80 percent, 90 percent. To get screwed liked that, that was my problem.”

Adding to his frustration was that McDowell wasn’t yet on his own qualifying lap.

“If he was stopping on the back straightaway and then going again he had nothing to lose,” Suarez said. “That was my biggest, biggest fire that I had inside. I feel like it was a lack of respect. When someone (shows) a lack of respect, you have to settle things up.”

While many may have been surprised to see Stewart-Haas Racing’s newest driver lose his cool, Suarez said those close to him know what happens when you push the limits with him.

“I have a little of me that’s like a switch, I just fire up really quick, Suarez said. “But I have to get there.”

Being employed by one of NASCAR’s more notorious hot heads in Tony Stewart also hasn’t influenced him.

“I feel like I’ve been that way my entire life and my entire career,” Suarez said. “When things don’t go as they’re planned, for circumstances you can’t control, you get disappointed. But when things get more away from the plan because of someone else, you’re going to get mad and disappointed. We all in the Cup Series, we’re very passionate. That’s why we’re there. Sometimes things get a little out of control. That’s part of racing sometimes. You just have to let people know that they have to respect the way you think and if you’re given respect … I expect that respect back. If I don’t get that, that’ll be something I don’t like.”

In a twist of faith granted by the marketing gods, Suarez has been paired with WWE wrestler Rey Mysterio in a cross-promotion effort. Mysterio will be a guest of Suarez’ this weekend at Auto Club Speedway and will drive the pace car to start the race.

Would Suarez accept an invitation into a real wrestling ring?

“I think I would be concerned to jump into that one,” Suarez said. “I think I could get my butt kicked in that one. I have a lot for respect for what these guys do. They jump high. They hit hard.”

 

NASCAR America at 6 p.m. ET: Texas weekend review

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Today’s NASCAR America airs from 6-7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Krista Voda hosts and is joined by Jeff Burton and Nate Ryan.

On today’s show:

  • We’ll recap the weekend that was at Texas Motor Speedway where Kevin Harvick secured a spot in the championship race with a dominant performance. How does Harvick’s win affect the championship picture in the Monster Energy Series?

 

  • Joey Logano has already locked himself into the Championship 4, but he made headlines at Texas by the way he raced fellow playoff driver Aric Almirola, who voiced his displeasure afterwards. We’ll hear Almirola’s comments and discuss.

 

  • We’ll also discuss NASCAR mistakenly sending Jimmie Johnson to the rear prior to the start of the race. We’ll have reaction from NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell and discuss how NASCAR can avoid these errors in the future.

 

  • Dave Burns spoke to crew chief Alan Gustafson about Chase Elliott’s sixth-place run at Texas and a likely must-win situation next weekend at Phoenix.

 

  • Plus we’ll recap the wild finish on Saturday in the Xfinity Series race at Texas. We’ll hear from race winner Cole Custer who is Miami-bound. Dave Burns also provides a report from JR Motorsports.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 6 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

NASCAR America: Rodney Childers wants a solid Martinsville top five

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A flat tire at Dover, too little fuel to get to the end of overtime at Talladega and a speeding penalty last week at Kansas kept Kevin Harvick from earning a single top five during the Round of 12 – despite having arguably the best car in each of those races.

“We’ve had cars fast enough to win races and we just have to keep doing what we do,” Harvick’s crew chief Rodney Childers told Dave Burns on Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America. “At some point it will turn around. Hopefully in the next three.”

The first challenge will come this week at Martinsville.

“In ’14 and ’15 we were really good there and then we kind of got off for a short spell and it seems like the last couple, we’ve been pretty good again,” Childers said.

In 2014 and ’15, Harvick finished in the top 10 three times in four Martinsville races. None of these were top fives. When he got “pretty good again,” Harvick recorded back-to-back fifth-place finishes last fall and this spring. According to Childers, that would define another good week.

“We’ve got a little bit of points going into it,” Childers said. “So we need to go there and we need to get some stage points. We need to get out of the race with a top five. … That would be our goal. If we can get the win, that would be incredible, but we need to have a solid day.”

For more watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

NASCAR America: Stewart-Haas Racing has one-third of the playoff field entering Dover

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Kevin Harvick only needed to start the Bank of America Roval 400 to advance to Round 2 of the playoffs.

The remainder of the Stewart-Haas Racing organization had a less certain fate last week.

“It wasn’t much sleep the last couple nights,” Bowyer said after the race in the Charlotte media center. “The little one woke up at 5 a.m., and once you’re up, you start thinking about this gremlin that’s ahead of you today, there wasn’t any more sleeping.”

Bowyer was the only driver who started outside of the top 12 in points who managed to advance.

Aric Almirola was involved in multiple incidents before ultimately advancing on a tiebreaker.

Kurt Busch started on the pole and avoided trouble all afternoon.

All four of SHR’s drivers made it through to the next round – giving them one-third of the playoff field.

Now that they are through to Round 2, the odds of them advancing again are high, according to NASCAR America’s Dave Burns.

“Crazy isn’t it?” Burns said. “All four Stewart-Haas cars into the second round. And their outlook is pretty good.”

Harvick has 50 playoff bonus points and victories at Dover and Kansas earlier this year – two of the three tracks that make up this round.

Bowyer has two previous wins at Talladega and will close out Round 2 on his home track in Kansas.

Busch finished an average of fifth this spring on the three tracks that make up the playoffs.

Almirola has to believe that all of his bad luck is behind him after being involved in so many incidents last week on the Charlotte Roval.

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

NASCAR America: Crew chief Matt McCall breaks down Jamie McMurray’s Coke 600

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Jamie McMurray finished sixth in last weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was only the second time this year he’s scored a top-15 finish and that was enough to send NBC America’s Dave Burns to the team’s shop to chat with crew chief Matt McCall about their performance and their projections for Pocono Raceway.

“(The Coke 600) was eventful for sure,” McCall said. “We started off, we had some tire vibration issues and we lost a lap there pretty early. And with 600 miles, that gives you a little bit of hope that you can get it back where you need to be. Fortunately, a couple of cautions fell where they needed to fall and give us a chance at the end to work on the car and have a decent run.”

The sixth-place finish is McMurray’s second-best this year behind a third at Texas Motor Speedway in April. The finish in Charlotte was vindication for how hard the team has worked.

“I feel like we’ve had some pretty good cars this year at times,” McCall said. “We just haven’t been able to put the race together with flat tires, running into something, or someone running into us. We just haven’t been able to put a solid race together.”

But now, it’s on to Pocono and there is a realization that it may be difficult to sustain the momentum. In 30 starts there, McMurray has not scored a top-five finish. Last year, he placed outside the top 25 in both races.

Still, McCall hopes that lessons learned last week contribute to a better finish this week.

“Last year, we had pretty good speed at both of the races,” he said. “Some brake issues in the first race last year that are hopefully resolved.

“The biggest thing is it’s hard to get all three corners correct – if you call Turn 2 a corner. And I think what has been our biggest challenge is Turn 3 and usually that is not good.”

For more, watch the video above.