Nothing in this world is guaranteed.
This is on the mind of many teams who come to Daytona in hopes of getting a shot at making the Daytona 500. For smaller teams, making it into restrictor-plate races are their main priority. These race are equalizers that allow anyone who is on the track when the checkered flag drops to have a chance to win.
Teams like Gaunt Bros. Racing who went out and signed struggling once phenom Daniel Suarez, need to earn their way into the race. The only way to do that was through the Bluegreen Vacation Duels.
Unfortunately, Suarez’s hopes of earning his way into the Daytona 500 and getting a good start to his redemption tour was ended when he and Ryan Blaney collided.
It was one of those racing incidents that had more to do with poor communication and less about aggressive driving, which I’m sure could only sting more for Suarez. A young man who was once seen as the future of NASCAR and leading the way for the diversity of the sport is now forced into one of the hardest situations for any driver.
The amount of confidence lost for him has got to be severe and going from having opportunities with two of the best teams in the sport to now having to scratch and climb his way just to make a race has got to be a position he never saw himself in.
Suarez was visibly heartbroken after the wreck:
The other side of this is a driver who has a spot in the 500, but who was remorseful about costing it for a fellow competitor he came up in the sports with. Both he and Suarez were part of the 2012 NASCAR Next class, but both are at very different stages of their careers.
Blaney, always to be one to admit when he was at fault and show emotion, shared his disappointment in himself and in being the root cause of Suarez missing his opportunity to make the race.
It’s a situation that happens at almost every race, and unfortunately, the stakes had a little more weight to them than usual.
Suarez still has an uphill battle to making it back to racing relevancy, but this will not be his only opportunity. He’s still young and despite his struggles, there is still upside to be realized from the once Xfinity Series champion.