Daniel Suarez has made history by becoming the first foreign-born driver to win a NASCAR National Series champion.
Suarez, born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, earned his third win of the season on Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship.
The win didn’t come easy as Suarez had to pass championship rival Elliott Sadler with just three laps to go on a late restart to be crowned champion, but the dominant driver on the day did just that en route to his championship win.
“My family’s worked super hard since I was 11 years old to give me the right equipment to get better,” Suarez said. “I’m just very proud of this team. (Proud) of everyone that has been helping me get to this point. All my sponsors, my friends, everyone in Mexico. I just can’t believe it.”
With Suarez winning the championship, it was the second time one of team owner Joe Gibbs’ cars won a driver’s championship.
“This is gonna be a big deal for, I think, our sport,” Gibbs said.
While Suarez celebrated, it was a different story for third-place finisher and championship runner-up Elliott Sadler.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Sadler said. “To be that close, and to kind of be in position there at the end the guys made a great call to put me in that spot. We’ve had a great season. I’ve had the time of my life here at JR Motorsports.”
Sadler’s teammate Justin Allgaier took home a sixth-place finish to end up third in points.
“Everybody at JR Motorsports works so hard. It’s just been so fun this season. We’ve had a blast,” Allgaier said. “We came here with no pressure on ourselves. We wanted to go out there and lay it all on the table, and get the best finish we could. We did that.”
Erik Jones, who wound up fourth in the championship fight, didn’t mince words when it came to a questionable call by the Tri-Star Motorsports No. 14 of Cole Whitt to stay out on the late caution. Whitt’s team was the only one that opted not to pit, and by doing so, held both he and Justin Allgaier up on the final restart, ending their title hopes.
“I thought the (No.) 14 would at least attempt to go,” Jones said. “He just kind of sat there and didn’t even attempt to go, so that’s pretty unfortunate. Really not a lot of respect for guys chasing a championship.”
Ty Dillon took home a second-place finish, despite not being in title contention. Sadler finished third followed by Ryan Blaney, Austin Dillon, Allgaier, Kyle Larson, Brendan Gaughan, Jones and Aric Almirola.
Alex Bowman, who was running inside the top-10 for most of the race, crashed coming to the finish line and finished 13th. He was checked and released from the infield care center.
With both Johnny Sauter and Daniel Suarez crowned champions this weekend, all eyes turn to the Sprint Cup Series as they will name their champion on Sunday.