Non-playoff drivers won the first three races in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series driver playoffs – No. 99 Freeway.com Chevrolet driver Daniel Suárez hopes that trend continues in the 2023 playoffs that begin Sunday night at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
Suárez finished the regular season in 17th, just one spot short of earning a second consecutive playoff berth, but that isn’t going to slow his Trackhouse Racing team’s effort to win races and score more points.
“We are going to Darlington with plans on winning the race,” said Suárez. “We are disappointed we aren’t in the playoffs but we know we have work to do and we are going to use these final 10 races to bring home trophies and get ready for 2024.”
Sunday’s Southern 500 on the treacherous 1.3-mile oval in Darlington known as the “Lady in Black” is one of the crown jewels on the NASCAR schedule and a trophy every driver would like to hoist in victory lane.
Suárez hopes he has the same speed but better luck at Darlington on Sunday than he had in May. Suárez was the victim of a nine-car accident on the opening lap of the final stage triggered by a car losing a tire towards the front of the field. The No. 99 had climbed to fourth in the opening stage.
USA Network will televise Sunday’s race at 6 p.m.
“You saw last year how the non-playoff drivers won races. That shows you how deep the field is. Martin Truex Jr. missed the playoffs last year and has scored the most points this year. Chase Elliott was in the Final Four last year and missed this year. There isn’t much difference between the playoff and non-playoff teams. We feel like we are a good team and we plan to show it in these final races.”
Thoughts on Darlington’s Southern 500?
“I love this race. It’s going to be hot, slick and such a challenge. I put a lot of effort into physical conditioning and hope that gives me an advantage on Sunday. It’s so easy to get into trouble at Darlington, but its such a rewarding track if you stay patient and run well. We had a really good car here in May so I am optimistic about Sunday night’s race.”
Trackhouse Racing PR