Despite a cloudy and gray morning at Dover International Speedway, Daniel Suarez shimmered bright in Sunday’s rain-postponed Drive Sober 200, taking the victory in dominating fashion by leading 123 of 200 laps en route to his second win in his XFINITY Series career.
Punching his ticket to the Round of 8 in the series’ first Chase season, Suarez praised his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing team for a perfect race.
“The guys just brought an amazing car,” Suarez said. “A ton of speed. It was just one of those races you’d feel bad if you lose the race. It’s pretty unbelievable to win this way.”
With relief and gratitude on one side of the JGR bus, teammate Erik Jones wasn’t as thrilled following 200 miles, as the pole-sitter had to make a late pit stop with eight laps to go, pulling his No. 20 Toyota down to 16th.
Four points behind the cutoff spot of Brennan Poole entering next week’s elimination race at Charlotte, Jones called Sunday’s race “embarrassing” despite leading 54 laps on the day.
“Just an embarrassing day overall,” he said. “We want to run a lot better than that. It’s pretty embarrassing to not be in the Chase right now for the next round. We have to have a good run at Charlotte for sure. It’s just something I never saw coming.”
Coming home second, Ty Dillon eased his point deficit after his crash last week at Kentucky, jumping to just three points behind eighth-place Poole.
“We started off really well, I slapped the wall there at the new [SAFER barrier] addition to the racetrack,” Dillon said. “I thought it was going to mess us up, but we were actually still pretty good.”
Another driver who smacked the wall [in a far more severe fashion] was Justin Marks, who was turned by leader Suarez before overcorrecting and stuffing his No. 42 into the Turn 1 wall. Taking his second big hit at Dover this season, Marks escaped without injury.
With Cup regulars like Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Austin Dillon scheduled to compete on Saturday, their Chase hopes on the Sprint Cup side took the top spot, as all three sat out the Sunday event.
In turn, Drew Herring and non-Cup Chasers Ryan Blaney and Regan Smith were tapped to take driving duties. They finished 21st, fourth and 13th, respectively.
Finishing in the top 10 was Justin Allgaier and Alex Bowman followed by Elliott Sadler, Brendan Gaughan and Ryan Reed. Cutting through these familiar names, Corey Lajoie grabbed a sixth-place finish for his JGL Racing team. Standing as a career-high effort, the son of two-time series champion Randy Lajoie brought home a second top 10 of 2016.
JJ Yeley played a similar pit strategy, as he came home eighth, his best finish of the season for TriStar Motorsports.