Daniel Suarez is Confident he Can Qualify for the Playoffs

Daniel Suarez, the driver of the #18 Juniper Networks Toyota, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Overton’s 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on June 29, 2018, in Joliet, Illinois. Photo – Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Entering Sunday’s Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, the 17th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the 2018 season, Daniel Suárez is 19th in the standings.

Nearly halfway through his sophomore season at NASCAR’s highest level, Suárez is still looking for his first victory. The best career results for the 26-year-old from Mexico are two third-place finishes, at Watkins Glen in 2017 and at Dover this year.

But one thing Suárez doesn’t lack is confidence, and on Saturday morning at Chicagoland Speedway, he called his own shot where the Cup Series Playoffs are concerned.

“I don’t really know (how), but we’re going to make it,” Suárez asserted. “I will tell you that. Somehow, we are going to work very hard like we’ve been doing. It’s a real shame that we haven’t showed the results we deserve, because the speed has been there.

“We have shown the ability to finish in the top-10 every race. I don’t know. I don’t know what I am doing wrong. Maybe some of my stuff, it needs a little bit of luck, but I don’t believe in luck 100 percent. We’re going to be fine. Maybe in a month, we’re going to be in a different position.”

Suárez can make the final 16 either with a victory or on points. As it stands now, with Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon 18th in points, Suárez would have to overtake 15th-place Alex Bowman to qualify for the Playoffs.

Though Suárez trails Bowman by 73 points, he doesn’t view that deficit as insurmountable.

“By points is very doable,” Suárez said. “I think if we have the speed to go out there and win a race, we will take that chance. But if we don’t and have to finish top-five or top-10, we’re going to be consistent and play that way, winning the stage points and stuff like that.

“I mean 70 points in ten races is not a lot. It’s doable, but you have to race smart, and a lot of people freak out a little bit. I am not one of those. I have to stay calm. We will be fine.”