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Daniel Suárez Captures First Career Victory

Daniel Suárez earned his first career NASCAR XFINITY Series win on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan, becoming the first Mexican-born driver to capture a NASCAR national series victory.

With the victory, Suárez clinches a spot in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase.

Suárez, a graduate of both the NASCAR Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next programs, has a accomplished a long list of accolades since joining NASCAR in 2011. Last season, he became the first Mexican driver to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, finishing fifth in the championship standings. This season, Suárez became the first foreign-born driver to lead the points in any of the three NASCAR national Series, topping the NASCAR XFINITY Series standings for six consecutive weeks. He is the current points leader in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, the series where “Names Are Made.”

Suárez, 24, has quickly climbed the NASCAR ladder system throughout his career, with full-time stops in the NASCAR Mexico Series and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East before joining the NASCAR XFINITY Series with Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2015 season.

During his four years (2011-14) in the NASCAR Mexico Series, Suárez won 10 races and finished in the top 10 in championship points in all four of his seasons, including a runner-up championship finish in 2013.

In two full-time seasons in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Suárez won three races and finished third in the final standings in 2013.

Suárez had scored six runner-up finishes in the national series prior to his win on Saturday.

With the victory, Suárez becomes only the fifth Latino driver to win a NASCAR national series race, joining Frank Mundy, Juan Pablo Montoya, Aric Almirola and Nelson Piquet Jr.

NASCAR Next is an industry-wide initiative designed to spotlight to best and brightest rising young stars in racing. NASCAR Drive for Diversity, operated by Rev Racing, is an academy-style development program for female and multicultural drivers and crew members who have the potential and determination to succeed at the highest levels of NASCAR.

Race Report: Charlotte

Denny Hamlin led Joe Gibbs Racing with a fourth-place finish in tonight’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. All four JGR teams spent a majority of the night racing inside the top ten although only Matt Kenseth would manage to join Hamlin in such a position taking the checkered flag in seventh, while two pit road speeding penalties resulted in an 18th-place finish for Carl Edwards and a late-race accident left Kyle Busch in 33rd.

Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota from the fourth position and was running third at lap 100. He would fall back outside the top five but was running seventh at lap 200. He would restart sixth on a lap 209 restart and was holding onto the eighth position at lap 250. The FedEx crew would gain him a spot during a round of green flag stops and he was seventh at lap 260. Hamlin was fifth with 100 laps to go following another round of green flag stops. A caution with just over 60 laps remaining would bring the field back down to pit road under caution and the FedEx crew would put Hamlin back out fifth for the restart. He would gain a spot to run fourth and managed to hold that position all the way to the finish.

Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 DEWALT Toyota in the 27th position and patiently raced his way up to 15th over the first 100 laps. He would enter the top ten on lap 141. Kenseth would receive hard contact from the 3 car while on pit road during a stop on lap 166. Although there was some damage to the left side of his DEWALT Camry it wouldn’t cost him any significant track position and he continued to hold the 10th position at lap 200. Kenseth would line up eighth for a restart on lap 209 but got shuffled back to run 13th. He would climb back to 10th by lap 260 following a round of green flag pit stops. Kenseth was sixth with 100 laps to go following another round of green flag pit stops. A caution with just over 60 laps remaining would bring the field back down to pit road under caution and the DEWALT crew would put Kenseth back out sixth for the restart. He would go on to finish in seventh.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 Subway Toyota from the ninth position and was able to hold it through the opening 100 laps. He would continue to run consistent laps and was up to sixth at the halfway mark. He would restart fifth on lap 209 and was able to gain one spot into fourth. Edwards was up to second following a round of green flag pit stops on lap 256. NASCAR would rule that the 19 was too fast entering the pits during a round of green flag pit stops just prior to lap 300 forcing him to do a pass through penalty. Unfortunately Edwards was too fast again while serving the penalty and had to return to pit road. He would fall a lap down to the leaders during the process. The Subway team would take the wave around to get back on the lead lap for a restart with 56 laps remaining. Edwards was 17th when he took the green again but unfortunately the caution needed did not come and the No. 19 would have to come to pit road for fuel with 30 laps remaining. That would leave him a lap down once again and with no further cautions he would go on to finish 18th.

Kyle Busch qualified the No. 18 M&M’S Red-White-Blue Toyota in the 16th position and was able to patiently work his way up to 12th over the first 100 laps. He would battle a tight handling race car throughout the first half of the race and was 18th for a restart on lap 209. Busch would jump up to 12th on the restart. The M&M’S crew would gain him additional spots during around of green flag pit stops and Busch was up to eighth by lap 260. Busch was ninth with 100 laps to go following another round of green flag pit stops. A caution with just over 60 laps remaining would bring the field back down to pit road under caution and the M&M’S crew would put Busch back out ninth for the restart. He was holding steady in the top 10 with less than 10 laps remaining when the M&M’S Camry slid up the track and into the outside wall. Busch would take the car to the garage and he would officially be scored in 33rd.

Toyota teammate Martin Truex, Jr. of Furniture Row Racing captured the win, followed by Kevin Harvick in second, Jimmie Johnson third, Hamlin fourth and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five. There were four cautions for a total of 19 laps and nine lead changes among four different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads north to the tricky triangle at Pocono Raceway next Sunday, June 5. Live coverage on Fox Sports 1 will start Sunday, June 5 at Noon (race starts at 1 PM ET). The race will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90.

Coughlin Scores a Hat-trick With Win at Baer Field

When someone scores three goals in a hockey game, fans litter the ice with their hats. It’s known as the “hat-trick.” While nobody threw their hats onto the racing surface at Indiana’s Baer Field Motorsports Park on Saturday, Cody Coughlin scored himself a hat-trick with his third consecutive ARCA/CRA Super Series victory in a row. It’s a feat that is rare in racing.

The Joe Gibbs Racing Development driver had to work extremely hard for this one as he started in the ninth position in his No. 1 JEGS.com Toyota Camry and had to chase down the leaders from a deficit of more than six seconds.

Coughlin was told throughout the race by his crew chief, Jack Smith, and his spotter, Scott Wimmer, to be easy on his tires and the leaders would come to him. That’s exactly what Coughlin did and that’s exactly what happened.

The Delaware, Ohio native cut down the large gap in just 15 laps to move into second-place. A caution with about 20 laps to go set up a shootout for the win and Coughlin was able to capitalize.

“This feels great,” said Coughlin. “I really had to earn this one. This one was tough. Terry Fisher and Scott Hantz were really good and it was a struggle to get around them. It was definitely challenging, but that makes it so much more rewarding.”

By virtue of another win, Coughlin’s points lead continues to grow as he cements himself as the frontrunner for the ARCA/CRA Super Series championship.

“We’re getting good results, and winning lets it take care of itself,” said Coughlin. “If we do this more often then the points will keep coming.

“I just really have to thank my crew for giving me another awesome race car and keeping me calm,” said Coughlin, who also competes in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Kyle Busch Motorsports. “Working with Jack this year has been awesome. Scott keeps calling great races, and Kevin (Hamlin, team manager) and Dave (Holt, crew member) have been working extremely hard as well. The Lord has blessed us all. Of course, none of this would be possible without the love and support from my parents, Di and John, and the support from my little sister, Kennedi. I’ve been really blessed to have such a great family. I also really want to thank Betsy Meyer for her support. She’s real close with Jack and she’s been in the hospital recently and I just wanted to let her know that we’re all thinking about her.”

Coughlin’s next race is a JEGS / CRA All-Stars Tour Pro Late Model event on Saturday, May 28 at his home track of Columbus Motor Speedway in Columbus, Ohio, just a few minutes away from his house in Delaware.

Matt Kenseth and Erik Jones Win at Dover!

Matt Kenseth punched his ticket to the Chase with a victory in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.

Kenseth’s victory means all four Joe Gibbs Racing teams have essentially earned their spot in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series just 12 weeks into the season. In fact, JGR has won six of the last seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and has captured an incredible seven of the first 12 point races of the season as well as eight of 13 events overall (Denny Hamlin also won the season opening Sprint Unlimited all-star race in Daytona). The win was the 135th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory for Joe Gibbs Racing, tying the organization with Roush Fenway Racing for third-most wins in NSCS history.

Kenseth’s teammate Denny Hamlin finished seventh today, while separate accidents took out Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch leaving each to finish 28th and 30th respectively.

Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the 10th position and was able to work his way toward the top five during the course of the opening green flag run. Great work by the Dollar General crew would allow Kenseth to restart fourth following a competition caution on lap 44 and he would settle in to run third. He would lead a lap on lap 131 and was able to remain in the top ten despite battling a tight handling race car midway through the race. A caution on lap 344 would set off a chain of events that Kenseth and the Dollar General team was able to use to their advantage. Track position was a major factor this afternoon and crew chief Jason Ratcliff would make the call for a two-tire change that allowed Kenseth to restart in second to the inside of leader Jimmie Johnson. That proved to be a key strategy play, because when the 48 car was unable to get up to speed on the restart, a major wreck would collect nearly 20 cars including Johnson. That put Kenseth out as the leader on the ensuing restart and he would manage to avoid being collected in another accident that involved his teammate Edwards. He would restart as the leader again with 34 laps remaining and despite being on two tires managed to hold off two hard charging competitors over a thrilling final green flag run. It is Kenseth’s 37th career victory.

Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota from the sixth position and would race near the top ten for much of the opening 100 laps. The 11 team would get hit with a pit road penalty on lap 118 that ultimately led to Hamlin falling a lap down to the leaders. Pit strategy would help Hamlin make his way back to the lead lap and actually back to the front of the field on lap 219. He would lead 15 laps before giving way to those on fresher tires, but the strategy paid off. Although he would get caught up in the day’s major accident on a lap 356 restart, the damage to his FedEx Camry would not end his day. He was able to go on to complete an impressive comeback and finish seventh.

Edwards started the No. 19 STANLEY Toyota from the fourth position and was strong throughout the afternoon. Edwards was near the front of the field most of the day leading four times for 27 laps. He appeared well positioned for a win late in the race after clearing the afternoon major’s wreck during a lap 356 restart. The accident collected nearly 20 cars in the field and brought out a red flag caution for cleanup. Edwards would restart third as the first car with four tires on lap 361 but this time the 42 would make contact with the left rear of the STANLEY Camry sending the 19 car hard into the inside wall. Fortunately Edwards was okay despite the hard hit, but his afternoon was over and with it the chance to add one million dollars, on top of the already donated $100,000, for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals as part of the annual Racing for a Miracle Program with STANLEY, DEWALT and ACE Hardware.

Busch started the No. 18 Pedigree Toyota in the third position but tight handling conditions dropped him back outside the top five through the early going. Track position was a key factor this afternoon in Dover and a two-tire pit stop allowed the Pedigree Camry to restart second on lap 219. He would remain in the top five for about 25 laps but the tight handling conditions remained and Busch reported that something might be wrong with the rear end of his car. He lined up 12th for a restart on lap 354 and was collected in a multi-car wreck which occurred after race leader Jimmie Johnson failed to get started when the green flag dropped. The accordion style wreck piled up the field and the No. 18 would receive major damage forcing Busch to the garage for the remainder of the afternoon. He would go on to finish 30th.

Matt Kenseth captured the win, followed by Kyle Larson in second, Chase Elliott third, Kasey Kahne fourth, and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five. There were 12 cautions for a total of 65 laps and 19 lead changes among 10 different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads returns home to Charlotte next Saturday night for the annual Sprint All-Star Race from Charlotte Motor Speedway. Live coverage on Fox Sports 1 will start Saturday night, May 21 at 7 PM with qualifying (race starts at approximately 9 PM ET). The race will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90.

Coughlin Claws His Way to a Top Five Finish at the Masters of the Pros

Cody Coughlin fought tooth-and-nail to a fifth-place finish in one of the crown jewel Pro Late Models races in the county, the Champion Racing Oil Masters of the Pros at Lebanon Missouri’s I-44 Speedway. The Joe Gibbs Racing Development driver started 11th on Saturday night in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour event and fought his way to his third consecutive top-five finish in Late Model competition.

Coughlin, who was riding a streak of two consecutive Late Model victories heading into the event, fought an ill-handling race car much of the day. Yet, Coughlin and the Team JEGS crew never backed down in the fiercely contested 144-lap showdown for the Pro Late Models on the 3/8-mile high-banked oval.

“Tonight was about what it looks like; it’s an okay run,” said Coughlin. “We weren’t very good, but we made the most of it and brought home a top five. It’s not a win, and anytime you don’t win it’s disappointing, but we’ll get them again next time.”

Coughlin methodically made his way through the field from a starting spot just outside the top 10. He passed cars wherever he could on the race track, using both the inside and outside grooves.

The 20-year-old Ohio native was rarely in the outside groove for restarts, which is preferred line. On the final restart Coughlin used the outside groove to get back into the top five where he would finish.

For Coughlin, it’s now back to the Super Late Model and back to Indiana, the state in which he got his most recent victory (Anderson Speedway). Coughlin will look to pad his ARCA/CRA Super Series points lead at Baer Field Speedway in Fort Wayne, IN, on Saturday, May 21.

“I’ve never been to Baer Field before, but I’m confident my crew chief Jack Smith will give me a great car like always and we’ll get another win,” Coughlin said. “I’m really thankful to have a my great crew of Kevin (Hamlin, team manager), Scott (Wimmer, spotter), and Dave (Holt, crew member) who put in so much hard work. I’m also really thankful to have the love and support of my parents, Di and John, and my awesome sister Kennedi. I’ve just really been blessed by the Lord above for the great success we’ve had lately.”