DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Monterrey native Daniel Suarez, the first full-time Mexican driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, appears comfortable in the garage among the stars of the stock-car series.
He finished a respectable 20th in the standings last season as a late replacement when Joe Gibbs Racing veteran Carl Edwards abruptly retired in January 2017. His crew chief, Dave Rogers, stepped down in March 2017, replaced by Scott Graves.
The 26-year-old Suarez, thanks to lessons learned during a sometimes frustrating rookie year, is ready for 2018.
Here are the three lessons that he said will have the biggest impact:
1. Be patient
“During a race, it is very important because these races are long and you can make adjustments and you can make ground as the race is progressing. As well, sometimes you have a great weekend and sometimes you have a weekend that is just OK. So you have to learn from those and try to be patient.”
2. Work extra hard with the team at the shop
“Last year definitely was a year, it was just a difficult year with a lot of changes and a lot of adjustments. It wasn’t a year that a rookie will dream of. But at the end of the day, I think it taught me a lot of things for this season to know what I need to do and what I need to do in the shop. To prepare myself with the team, with the information that we have -- we have a lot of engineers and a lot of information from four teams. There is a lot of information there that you can learn from. That is something that I learned for sure last year and that is going to be helpful for this year.”
3. Learn the technology
“I’m talking about data, Dartfish [video that overlaps drivers’ laps], a lot of different tools that can help to learn quicker about the series and about the competition. To try to take advantage of that as much as possible is important. … Looking at data and Dartfish are the most important [plus] watching film -- just spend as much as time as possible learning and preparing myself for the next race.”