NASCAR Kansas Notebook: Daniel Suarez Not Worried By Little Things Like Rain

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Jim Pedley ~ NASCAR Wire Service

BRISTOL, TN - APRIL 17:  Daniel Suarez, driver of the #18 ARRIS Toyota, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive To Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)

BRISTOL, TN – APRIL 17: Daniel Suarez, driver of the #18 ARRIS Toyota, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive To Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The rain was coming down hard and pooling up across the garage area at a rate that was putting Thursday afternoon practices for Friday night’s Toyota Tundra 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Kansas Speedway in serious jeopardy.

Might have been a good weekend to stay home and get some rest, it was suggested to rookie Daniel Suarez, who has raced in all nine XFINITY Series and all three Camping World Truck Series events this year.

Not a chance, the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver said.

“Take an off weekend? I want to be in a race car,” Suarez said. “Every single weekend. My ‘off’ weekends will come in December. That’s when we’ll have time for that.”

Suarez’s plan to plant himself in drivers’ seats in the two top-tier NASCAR series is understandable. Especially these days. Even with his youth, his relative inexperience and his relative newness to stock cars, he appears to be creeping toward phenom status.

The 23-year-old native of Monterrey, Mexico is having himself a year. In the eight XFINITY starts he’s logged since getting caught up in a wreck during Speedweeks, Suarez has six top-15 finishes with a career best of second three weeks ago in Bristol.

Better still, he’s finished in the top nine in each of his Camping World starts in 2015 with finishes of fourth and sixth the past two races at Atlanta and Martinsville respectively.

Suarez is embedded in NASCAR and he’s looking good. And nerves? None. Not even the prospect of losing practice time Thursday at a track he was visiting for the first time in his life.

“I was actually thinking about that an hour ago,” Suarez said rain washing out Friday’s track time. “To be honest, I feel like I’m a very lucky driver to be with race teams like Kyle Busch Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing (his XFINITY team). I’m very confident that I’m going to have a fast truck in this race. The worry will be on me to adapt to the race track and to the truck. Definitely, it’s going to be a challenge, but I don’t feel like we are going to be super horrible if we don’t have practice.

“To be honest, I feel like that chemistry and that communication has been getting better and better with my crew chief and my engineers in the No. 51 Tundra. I’m a little worried about that, but I feel like if we don’t have practice, nobody will have practice then. We’re going to be in good shape anyway.”


Officially, the 2015 Camping World Truck Series kicked off during Speedweeks in February at Daytona International Speedway.

Unofficially, and thanks to an end to long breaks between races as spring heads toward summer, it kind of restarts this weekend at Kansas Speedway.

“Yes, for sure,” the defending Camping World Truck Series champion said Thursday in the Kansas infield when asked if this weekend marked kind of a restarting of the 2015 season. “We race, I think, like six of the next seven weeks. Now is the time. We’ve raced well up to this point but we really haven’t raced a whole lot. So now, this part of the season, it’s game time for sure.”

The trucks will be racing for just the fourth time this year when they take to the track for Toyota Tundra 250, which is scheduled for Friday night at Kansas.

Crafton, the only driver in truck series history to have won back-to-back series championships, has got to be hoping that resumption of regular racing will produce same-old, same-old 2015 results.

Crafton and his ThorSport Racing team are sitting first in points as they arrive at Kansas – though just by two points over Tyler Reddick and by six over third-place Erik Jones. The victory for Crafton came at Atlanta Motor Speedway which, like Kansas, is a 1.5-mile oval. Not that that matters.

“It’s just about having good trucks,” he said. “These guys (ThorSport’s crew) bring really, really good Menards Toyota Tundras each and every week to the mile-and-a-half stuff. I think our short track stuff is just as good as our mile-and-a-half stuff. I look forward to each and every week that we go to the race track to be totally honest.”

Kansas has not always been a friendly confine for Crafton. His first 12 visits to the track produced just one top-five finish. But during his championship seasons, he’s finished like, well, a champion – he won here two years ago and was second last year.

Not surprisingly, love has blossomed between Crafton and the nation’s-heartland track.

“I love coming to Kansas – the whole facility, the race track – they repaved it and the new pavement was a little bit of a bear at the beginning, but it’s starting to get some weathering,” he said. “It’s getting better. The racing is getting better and they’re starting to get a second groove to it. Every year I love coming here without a doubt. I’m super stoked for each and every race, I can’t say that enough. I’ve got an awesome group of guys that bring just crazy, fast trucks and I’m lucky enough to get to drive them.”

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