A last-lap pass enabled NASCAR K&N Pro Series East driver Daniel Suarez to take the checkered flag in tonight’s NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series’ 120-mile season-opener at Phoenix International Raceway.
Suarez had suffered a speeding penalty on pit road earlier in the race, but clawed his way to the front and pulled into second place with 20 laps to go.
After hounding Antonio Perez all the way to the white flag, Suarez got a run on the inside of Perez through the flat part of the PIR dogleg. Suarez was able to complete the pass into Turn 3 and then beat eventual runner-up Rodrigo Peralta to the stripe by less than a car length.
After hanging on for the win, Suarez stopped his car on the frontstretch, stepped onto the roof, and channeled his inner Kyle Busch by taking a bow for the fans.
Suarez has now claimed his fourth straight NASCAR touring win. He won the Toyota Series’ season finale in 2013 and then opened this year’s K&N East season with a pair of wins at New Smyrna (Fla.) and the Battle at the Beach at Daytona International Speedway.
The 22-year-old native of Monterrey, Mexico races for the RevRacing team in the K&N East series, which is the flagship team for NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity project. He was named one of the NASCAR Next prospects for 2013-14 last year.
Perez, Luis Felipe Montano, and Ruben Pardo rounded out the Top 5 finishers. IndyCar Series veteran Mario Dominguez finished in 10th position.
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.
The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.
“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.
Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”
Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.
“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.
Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.