Daniel Suarez Advances In Chase With Dover Victoryby Benjamin Sanders October 2, 2016 0 comments
DOVER, Del. – Daniel Suarez was victorious in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway after rain delayed the race until Sunday morning.
Suarez captured his second win of the 2016 season after leading a race high of 123 laps. With the win, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver will now advance and compete in the Round of 8 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase.
“I’m very proud of this team – the 19 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry,” Suarez said. “They did a really good job today and the guys just brought an amazing car. We had a ton of speed. This is one of those races that you would feel bad to lose the race. ARRIS, Juniper, Toyota – everyone that supports this program together, it’s pretty unbelievable to win.”
Josh Wise’s brought out the first caution of the morning on lap three. The Joe Gibbs Racing duo of Erik Jones and Suarez led the early laps and drove away from the field until lap 35, when Jordan Anderson blew a right front tire in Turn 2. When the pits opened up, all three Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas took two tires, while the remainder of the field played it safe and took four.
The pit strategy had contradicting effects for the two leaders, as Jones began to struggle and complain of a vibration. Suarez dominated the middle stages . On lap 99, former Dover winner Jones came to pit road for an unscheduled pit stop for a vibration. The leaders pitted under green 15 laps later.
Differing strategies between the leaders and the mid-field cars created havoc as the discrepancy of speed was vast, and it was only a matter of time until trouble ensued. Leader Suarez made slight contact heading into Turn 1 with road course ace Justin Marks, who made heavy contact with the outside SAFER barrier as the No. 42 Katerra Chevrolet crashed and briefly went airborne. Marks walked away unhurt but frustrated.
The leader at this time of Marks’ crash was Chase underdog Blake Koch. He was in great position until his Kaulig Racing Chevrolet ran out of fuel under the caution. He lost a lap in the process. Koch went on to finish 14th.
“Today felt great,” Koch said. “The car was really good. We’ve really worked on getting the car driving better every week, and that’s what paid off in the race. We ran out of gas, which kind of hurt our day for a good finish, but I had an absolute blast.”
On the final restart, Justin Allgaier made the only notable challenge to Suarez. Allgaier passed him, albeit for two laps as Suarez retook the lead and gapped the field to claim his position in the Round of 8. Ty Dillon drove from the rear to finish second, ahead of Justin Allgaier, Ryan Blaney and Alex Bowman.
With the win, Daniel Suarez now leads the Chase by two points over Elliott Sadler. Just Allgaier is third, 16 points back. Brendan Gaughan, Ryan Reed, Darrell Wallace Jr., Blake Koch and Brennan Poole round out the top-eight.
Ty Dillon currently sits ninth, and after Jones’ miserable day, resulting in a 16th place finish, he’s 10th in the Chase, four points outside of the cut off.
“It’s pretty embarrassing not to even be in the Chase right now for the next round too,” Jones said. “We have a lot of work to do and we have to have a good run at Charlotte for sure. It’s just unfortunate, it’s just something that I never would have seen it coming. Pretty disappointed.”
The next race on the NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule is the Drive for the Cure 300 Presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday, Oct. 7. Live coverage of the race can be found on the NBC Sport Network (NBCSN) and the Performance Racing Network (PRN) at 8 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images