189_Anthem Annual 2017 February Edition.p1

2017 Anthem Annual February

Daniel Suarez Cherishes First NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship When Mexican-born Daniel Suarez came to the United States in 2011 to pursue a career in NASCAR’s upper levels, the youngster couldn’t even speak English. Suarez now speaks as NASCAR’s reigning XFINITY Series champion. And, he boasts a strong English vocabulary, too. In winning the 2016 title, Suarez became the first Latin American, as well as the first graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program operated by Rev Racing, to claim a NASCAR national series crown. The native of Monterrey, Mexico, is also the sport’s first foreign-born champion of any kind. Earlier last year, Suarez became the first Mexican-born driver to prevail in any of NASCAR’s three national series when he executed a dramatic late-race pass on veteran Kyle Busch to go to Gatorade Victory Lane in the XFINITY Series race at Michigan International Speedway. Need proof that NASCAR has really gone international? Look no further than 25-year-old Suarez, who spent four years honing his skills in the NASCAR Mexico Series before landing a full-time XFINITY Series ride with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015, in addition to a part-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule with Kyle Busch Motorsports. “Daniel Suarez has competed in NASCAR for a relatively brief time, yet his impact on the sport has been immeasurable,” NASCAR chairman Brian France said. “Combining impressive talent and an incredible personality, Daniel has attracted fans throughout North America. His accomplishments already are too numerous to list. … Daniel has the skill, fortitude and passion for future NASCAR stardom.” Suarez can’t help but be amazed when reflecting on how far he’s come both personally and professionally in just a few years. As recent as 2014, he was toiling in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East trying to make a name for himself. “I just feel very lucky,” said Suarez, who finished fifth in points but failed to win as a XFINITY Series rookie in 2015. “I feel very lucky to be in this position and to be with a team like Joe Gibbs Racing. The very first time that I was going to move to the United States, a lot of people told me it was going to be difficult because I was a Mexican driver, and nobody else made it happen in the past.  “Right now, honestly, I can tell that to be a Mexican driver, Latin American driver, is something positive. I really feel like a lot of sponsors have a lot of support for me. They’ve been very interested to help me and to work with me, and that’s something just great for me.” Based on his success in the XFINITY Series, it came as no surprise that Suarez was offered the opportunity of a lifetime — a full-time ride in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017. On January 11, Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Carl Daniel Suarez captured the championship in only his second season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images ANTHEM MOTORSPORTS ANNUAL 189


2017 Anthem Annual February
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