SUAREZ WINS FOURTH CONSECUTIVE RACE
Following the announcement of a ten-year extension of the agreement between NASCAR and OCESA, the leading live entertainment company in Latin America, the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series celebrated the start of its 11th season and the 50th anniversary of Phoenix International Raceway with a thrilling ending in the Toyota 120.
Daniel Suarez claimed his fourth consecutive victory in NASCAR touring series races by making a daring last-lap pass of Antonio Perez in the backstretch dogleg and fending off a late charge from defending series champion Rodrigo Peralta to claim victory by .097 seconds. With the top three all on fatigued tires, Peralta was able to slip past Perez coming out of turn 4 for a second-place finish.
The first half of the Toyota 120 was plagued by wrecks and caution flags, but it still got off in daring fashion as Perez dove from his position in third below pole-sitter Ruben Pardo in turn 1, which allowed outside pole-sitter Suarez to pull into the lead.
The first caution period came on lap 5 as Hector Felix spun his Toyota off turn 3. It was only the beginning: the yellow flag waved six times in the first half of the race. Things settled down after that with Perez showing the way, and the race went caution-free from a restart on lap 65 to the end.
Suarez was caught speeding on pit road on a lap 46 pit stop and was assessed a pass-through penalty, forcing him to roll down pit lane as the rest of the field sped past, in the process dropping from first to 12th. He clearly had the fastest car, but it became a question whether he could get around Perez as the laps ticked by.
Pole-sitter Pardo also ran into challenges, as a handling issue sent him tumbling through the field and behind a lap at mid-race, but the 34-year-old came charging forward to claim a top-five finish.
Phoenix’s 50th anniversary kick-off weekend continues Saturday with the Blue Jeans Go GreenTM 200, Presented by Cotton, The Fabric of Our Lives® at 1:45 p.m. MST and concludes Sunday with The Profit on CNBC 500, Presented by Small Business Fueling America.
Both races will feature some of the most talented drivers in motorsports, but they will be hard-pressed to produce an ending as dramatic as Suarez, Peralta and Perez dazzled fans with on Friday night.
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Ruben Pardo earned his first NASCAR Mexico Series win at Phoenix International Raceway in the Toyota 120 on Friday. After starting on the pole, Pardo fell as low as 12th but fought back to the front in the late stages.
Pop music sensation Tori Kelly will perform the national anthem prior to the start of the CampingWorld.com 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, March 15, highlighting the pre-race festivities. Kelly’s performance will be included in the live national television broadcast of the race on FOX at 12:30 p.m. local time (3:30 p.m. Eastern).
Phoenix International Raceway is encouraging fans to prepare for race day traffic by arriving early and enjoying the full NASCAR experience during the CampingWorld.com 500 event weekend, March 13-15. In addition to the CampingWorld.com 500 on Sunday, March 15 at 12:30 p.m. PST, the race weekend at PIR will include the Axalta Faster. Tougher. Brighter. 200 NASCAR XFINITY Series race on Saturday, March 14 at 1 p.m. PST and the Toyota 120 NASCAR Mexico Series race on Friday, March 13 at 7 p.m. PST.