Sizzling Suarez Claims Mexico Series Glory
AVONDALE, Ariz. — Daniel Suarez continued his blazing start to the NASCAR season with a last-lap pass to win Friday’s Toyota 120 for the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series at Phoenix Int’l Raceway.
Suarez, who won the opening two races for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, passed Antonio Perez in the backstretch dogleg and fending off a late charge from defending series champion Rodrigo Peralta to claim victory by .097 seconds.
With the top three all on fatigued tires, Peralta was able to slip past Perez coming out of turn four for a second-place finish.
The first half of the Toyota 120 was plagued by wrecks and caution flags, but it still got off in daring fashion as Perez dove from his position in third below polesitter Ruben Pardo in turn one, which allowed outside pole-sitter Suarez to pull into the lead.
The first caution period came on lap five as Hector Felix spun his Toyota off turn three. It was only the beginning: the yellow flag waved six times in the first half of the race. Things settled down after that with Perez showing the way, and the race went caution-free from a restart on lap 65 to the end.
Suarez was caught speeding on pit road on a lap-46 pit stop and was assessed a pass-through penalty, forcing him to roll down pit lane as the rest of the field sped past, in the process dropping from first to 12th. He clearly had the fastest car, but it became a question whether he could get around Perez as the laps ticked off.
Pardo also ran into challenges, as a handling issue sent him tumbling through the field and behind a lap at mid-race, but the 34-year-old came charging forward to claim a top-five finish.