In a historic win, Daniel Suárez became Sunday the first Mexican-born driver to win NASCAR's Cup Series Toyota Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway in California.
The 30-year-old from Nuevo León held off Chris Buescher for the final 23 laps to earn his first career win at the highest NASCAR level in his 195th start.
Suárez, who drives for Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet, which is co-owned by Cuban musician Pitbull, celebrated by punching a taco piñata. He was cheered by his fan club, known as "Daniel's Amigos," whose members were all wearing red T-shirts in support.
"It’s been a rough journey in the Cup Series, and these guys believed in me. I have a lot of people to thank in Mexico. My family, they never gave up on me," Suárez said in an interview with the Associated Press.
He joins Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya as the only Latin American-born driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race.
Suárez moved to the United States 11 years ago and received his U.S. residency in 2018. His win is a boost for NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program, which is designed to develop and train female and minority drivers on and off the track.
In 2016 he became the first Mexican to win NASCAR's "minor league" Xfinity Series race. He was then promoted to NASCAR's highest level.
Addressing his supporters in attendance, Suárez said in Spanish the win would be "the first one of many."
“All the people wearing red shirts today, those are my people,” Suárez said in an interview with Insider. "Coming from Mexico, not knowing the language, trying to find an opportunity, having goals, just trying to find that dream or trying to make that dream happen. These are my people. I feel extremely lucky to be the one that can represent all of them."
“Hopefully, the success that we have had, that we’re having, can fuel them as well to continue to push in whatever they want to do — [whether] that is racing, mechanic, engineering, business, whatever that may be — to continue to fuel them to know that they can do it. They just have to work hard and put on the table what they have to do," he told Insider.