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Daniel Suárez: 2022 NASCAR Season Preview and Prediction

Daniel Suarez

Suárez, the driver of the No. 99 Chevrolet for Trackhouse Racing Team, is ranked No. 21 by Athlon Sports

Trackhouse Racing Team officially announced its existence as a NASCAR Cup Series team in October 2020 and issued some bold declarations. Team owner Justin Marks — a former driver himself — talked about reaching “the highest echelon of the sport” and putting top-tier cars on track.

“My goal is simple: I want to win races,” said then-new driver Daniel Suárez.

Now, with a year of the team’s on-track results to show and a bevy of other newsworthy organizational announcements in hand, it’s clear that Trackhouse and Suárez just might be on the right path.

Marks’ Trackhouse operation is leveraging unique approaches to race team establishment and ownership, plus more tried-and-true paths to NASCAR success. The unique side included the team making a pop-culture splash last season by announcing recording artist Pitbull as a team co-owner. And the more traditional came in both hiring and partnerships.

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Marks hired Ty Norris, a longtime NASCAR team executive with stops at Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Michael Waltrip Racing, to run the racing side. The Trackhouse team also quickly aligned with Richard Childress Racing in a joint venture agreement. That meant Trackhouse got to leverage personnel, processes, engineering and other assets from a storied, experienced Chevrolet team — avoiding many of the pitfalls that happen with building a racing operation from the ground up.

Marks made the most waves, though, when he announced last summer that the team had acquired all of Chip Ganassi Racing, including charters, assets and rights to team sponsors. Suddenly, the upstart single-car operation became two for this season — giving Suárez a new teammate in Ross Chastain. The two team cars (No. 1 for Chastain and No. 99 for Suárez) now bookend the NASCAR Cup Series field.

The acquisition was undoubtedly a significant investment (think tens of millions) and proof positive that Marks and Trackhouse are really trying to see their way to success. That investment has to be remarkably reassuring for Suárez, especially after a 2021 season that featured a shortage of high points. In 36 starts last year, Suárez drove the No. 99 Chevrolet to his best finish (fourth) during the dirt track event at Bristol Motor Speedway but otherwise locked in just three more top-10 results. The team missed the Playoffs with an average finish of 20.1.

The results were an improvement for Suárez personally — after leaving Stewart-Haas Racing following 2019, he spent the 2020 season with backmarker team Gaunt Brothers Racing, missing the Daytona 500, netting zero top 10s and earning an average finish of 26.6 — and on par with where most expectations would be for a first-year Cup team. But now, with new assets, new partners and an expanded on-track presence, those expectations are going to rise in Suárez’s sixth full-time Cup season.

Fortunately for the 30-year-old Suárez — a native of Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico and the 2016 Xfinity Series champion — team owner Marks has been unequivocal in his public confidence.

“In this Playoff era, you want guys that you know if you build a company around them, put cars underneath them, and people behind them that give them the opportunity to win, that they’re going to go and do that job,” Marks said last summer. “Ross and Daniel have both proven that when they’ve been in those situations, they can deliver. The rest we can build around them.”