By Holly Cain
NASCAR Wire Service
“Win Numero Uno.” Those were the words on the flag Mexican driver Daniel Suárez held out the window of his No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet as he turned celebratory “donuts” on the frontstretch of Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway Sunday afternoon in the ecstatic first moments of his first ever NASCAR Cup Series victory.
Suárez’s No. 99 Chevrolet pulled away from runner-up Chris Buescher’s RFK Racing Ford in the closing laps to take an impressive 3.849-second maiden NASCAR Cup Series win on the 1.99-mile Northern Californian road course – the third victory of the season for the second-year Trackhouse Racing team whose members rushed over the pit road wall to embrace their driver and celebrate the historic achievement.
With the win, in his 195th NASCAR Cup Series start, Suárez becomes the fifth different driver not born in the United States to win in the NASCAR Cup Series; joining Marcos Ambrose (Australia), Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia), Earl Ross (Canada) and Mario Andretti (Italy). And he did so convincingly. He led a race best 47 of the 110 laps and ultimately took one of the largest margins of victory on the season.
Suárez, the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion, screamed in joy on his team radio on the cool-down lap and after exiting his car, smashed a pinata.
Congratulations soon came in from across the racing world on social media – including former seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson – all before Suárez had even hoisted his trophy.
“I have so many thoughts in my head right now," an emotional Suárez said, thanking his team owner Justin Marks, his family, and “all the people who helped me get to this point."
“So very happy we were able to make it work," Suárez added, saying of his team, “They believed in me from day one."
He then offered a message of thanks in Spanish to the large crowd of his “Amigos” - the name of his fan club cheering trackside – and ended it in English by promising, “this is one of many.”
The 30-year-old Suárez, from Monterrey, Mexico, is now the 12th different winner of the 2022 season – and fourth first-time winner.
The top-four finishing drivers Sunday were all looking for their first win of the season. Front Row Motorsports driver Michael McDowell finished third, followed by Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick in fourth.