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June 13, 2016

Daniel Suarez

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's NASCAR teleconference. We are joined by Daniel Suarez, driver of the No.19 ARRIS Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
Daniel won his first NASCAR XFINITY Series race on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway, becoming the first Mexican‑born driver to capture a NASCAR national series victory.
Daniel, how did it feel to make it to Victory Lane and secure a spot for the Chase in the NASCAR XFINITY Series?
DANIEL SUAREZ: It feels good for sure. I'm still trying to relive how everything happened, to be honest with you. Was just unbelievable weekend in the way that everything work out because, to be honest with you, wasn't an easy weekend at all. We have many different circumstances during the race that it was going to be difficult to come back to the front.
I made a mistake in the beginning of the race with a pit road speed penalty. We had a little issue with the clutch in the car. It was almost impossible to leave my box in every single pit stop in a good position. So we had some different circumstances over there that definitely affect our whole race.
But right there in the end with that long run, I felt like my car was one of the best. Thanks God, thanks to a lot of people, we were able to make it happen in the last lap and a half or so.
THE MODERATOR: We'll now go to the media for questions for today's guest, Daniel Suarez.

Q. Daniel, do you really get a sense that there's a lot of young talent coming up? What is it like to be a part of it all?
DANIEL SUAREZ: Well, I really think there is a lot of young new talent that is coming to the sport. Definitely NASCAR is doing a really, really good job bringing new young talent.
I was part of the first ever creation of NASCAR Next 9 program. It was made by Chase Elliott, Darrell Wallace, Ryan Blaney. There were a lot of drivers out there. They are in the national series right now. Kyle Larson, myself. There are a lot of drivers right now in the national series.
For me, it's a true honor to be part of this program and be part of this group of young drivers that are coming into the sport, into the national series, to try to be successful right now and in the future as well.

Q. What have you done to celebrate the last couple of days?
DANIEL SUAREZ: Well, actually on Saturday night, my whole team and some friends, we went to a really good Mexican place here in Charlotte to have some fun. We had some dinner. We just celebrate a little bit.
On Sunday I spend most of the time in my place watching the Cup race, listening to my spotter. That was pretty much it.
I'm still thinking about it. I'm still thinking how everything happened. It was a race to try to learn some good stuff I could have done a little bit better in the beginning of the race.
But definitely was an amazing weekend. I think there is no words to describe what I was feeling in those moments exactly, but it was an amazing weekend.

Q. Daniel, to finally grab that first win and get the monkey off your back, how does that change your mindset moving forward?
DANIEL SUAREZ: It change a lot. Definitely change a lot. That monkey was in my back for long time. Finally is out. So definitely it feel different. Less pressure.
Right now I feel like we are going to go to the racetrack a little bit more relaxed knowing that we know how to win races now. We finally learn how to close the deal off. That was something really good.
I think the first one is always the most difficult to get in every series, pretty much in everything. We finally got that one. So from now on, hopefully we can keep this momentum. We can start building our confidence as a group, the whole team, and move forward.

Q. Daniel, you've been having a great season. You're at the top of the points standings. Was there ever any question in your mind that you were going to win at Michigan after you've come so close after the past year?
DANIEL SUAREZ: Well, to be honest with you, I think the win, it was meant to come any moment. Michigan wasn't in the list of my favorite racetracks. Right now it is, but wasn't in that list.
I felt like we were strong every single weekend. Every single weekend we had the speed in that 19 ARRIS Camry. The only thing we needed was to put all the pieces together, to put a good race together, to be strong at the end and put ourselves in a good position.
Honestly, a few weeks ago I was putting a lot of pressure to myself to try to win the race, to try to get that victory, try to do it now. I felt like that was wrong. In the last week or so I start to relax a little bit more. I stop thinking about it. I just start try hard to make it happen, but taking the pressure out. It's exactly how things start to work out better.
I think I was able to understand that early enough, to try to put my mindset and put myself in the right direction, try to enjoy this victory of Michigan.

Q. With this being a very historical victory, you being the first Mexican driver to win a NASCAR race in any of the three levels, how much do you hope this is an inspiration to others who are in Mexico or other countries who are minorities, trying to make their way into NASCAR? How hopeful are you that this is a catalyst for minorities to get into racing?
DANIEL SUAREZ: I think is going to help, for sure. If I was going to be in that position, if I was an upcoming driver from Mexico, in the Mexican series, or the (indiscernible) series from the U.S., I would be very excited. I would be very excited there is another Mexican driver, Latin American driver, in the national series doing something right. I would be very excited.
Hopefully this can help to show more young drivers out there that they are doing good things and they are trying to follow a dream. Hopefully that can help to give them a little bit more confidence to come here to the U.S., to get the support from NASCAR.
Really, I had a lot of support from NASCAR when I came here to the U.S., in the beginning of my racing career, trying to make it happen, pretty much like what we are doing right now.

Q. Daniel, have you gotten any sense yet of maybe how important this win was to your sponsors or others that are financially supporting this effort as far as your future years in XFINITY and a possible move to Cup?
DANIEL SUAREZ: Well, I think I know how important it was. I believe a lot of people was waiting for this, people that believe in me, my family, my friends, my race team, my sponsors. I think a lot of people was waiting for this. Finally we got it.
Actually something that I mention in some previous interviews, last year a lot of people was telling me that there was no question of if was going to happen, it was question of when is going to happen. Those kind of comments you like to hear, when people is on your side with a lot of support.
But I think those comments, those good comments, stay there for a little bit too long. In the last couple months, I wasn't very happy when people was telling me that. I was just getting a little bit (indiscernible). I was just trying to push myself a little bit more hard to try to close the deal.
In one point I start making mistakes. In the point when I start to relax is when everything started coming together.
So I think it was really a good weekend for us. For sure a lot of people were waiting for this. Finally we got it.

Q. Do you think people had any doubts? There certainly is a feeling from fans and sponsors that they want winners. You can hear it's not a matter of if but when. I assume that for some they need to actually see you in Victory Lane to know that you can do it.
DANIEL SUAREZ: Yeah, definitely there is a big step from being strong, being competitive, running the front, and winning races. That was something that I was missing. That was something that I was still trying to understand how to make that last step.
Ever since last year we have had a lot of speed, we've been running in the front. But to win races, there is something that you need to work out.
I think maybe it took me a little bit longer than what I thought, but finally we got to that point.

Q. Any idea how much this has resonated in Monterrey and other parts of Mexico?
DANIEL SUAREZ: From what I hear from friends, people, sponsors, they are getting crazy down there. The people is super happy and excited about what's going on. I have received a lot of text messages and, as well, just comments, really good comments on social media about the race. They keep watching the replay of the race. They still getting excited. All these kind of comments.
For me, just super excited to have people with that amount of support all over the place. It's just great. I'm just in such a great position right now, in Latin America and the U.S., that I really feel proud to be in this position right now.
THE MODERATOR: Daniel, thank you for joining us today and good luck at Iowa Speedway this weekend. Thank you to the media for joining us, as well.

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