By Brian Citino
The drivers of the NASCAR XFINITY Series have had to adjust this fall to the new Chase format that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has been using for a few years. Essentially, it’s a win and advance situation, where any mistake could potentially end a championship bid.
Daniel Suarez takes the checkered flag for the “Drive Sober 200” presented by the Delaware Office of Highway Safety NASCAR XFINITY Series race on Sunday, Oct. 2 at Dover International Speedway. PHOTO BY SCOTT R. LEPAGE
It’s a format that can create a lot of stress for the competitors, but it’s a stress that Daniel Suarez, driver of the No. 19 Toyota, can forget about until the next round, as his impressive performance on Sunday earned him the win in the “Drive Sober 200” presented by the Delaware Office of Highway Safety NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Dover International Speedway.
Suarez led 123 laps in the event, including the final 45, finishing with a comfortable 5.625-second lead over Ty Dillon when he took the checkered flag.
Team owner Joe Gibbs, no stranger to success in all three NASCAR national touring series, added to his team’s impressive resume at the Monster Mile, but credited his young driver for today’s success.
“He’s one of the up-and-coming stars of this sport,” Gibbs said.
The owner added that, as a graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, Suarez’s success is helping blaze trails for many like him.
“From a diversity standpoint and all he represents, it’s huge for our sport,” Gibbs said.
It’s Suarez’s first win at Dover, something he said he’ll cherish forever, especially with his Monster Trophy.
“In the K&N Series, I used to see those trophies and really wanted one of them,” he said. “Now I have one to bring home, which is very special.”
The Sunday morning race was a necessity after rain forced a delay from Saturday’s scheduled time. Fans were treated to a thrilling affair, however, and it was a perfect lead in to the afternoon’s “Citizen Soldier 400” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
There was plenty of action and contact, as the Monster whet its appetite to the tune of four cautions for 35 laps. The race also featured 11 lead changes between seven drivers.
Suarez and Dillon were followed to the finish line by Justin Allgaier, Ryan Blaney and Alex Bowman.
Corey LaJoie, Elliott Sadler, JJ Yeley, Brendan Gaughan and Ryan Reed rounded out the top 10.
The race took 1 hour, 55 minutes and 18 seconds to complete, with an average speed of 104.076 mph.