Home-field advantage is virtually nonexistent in NASCAR, but Daniel Suarez will have just that on Sunday at Phoenix Raceway.
In 2019, Suarez teamed up with NASCAR, Coca-Cola and participating tracks to create the “Daniel’s Amigos” program, which provides fans with a one-of-a-kind race day experience while also allowing them to embrace their heritage. Sunday will mark the first meet-up of the season and the inaugural gathering in Arizona, where upwards of 200 Latinos will cheer on Suarez.
Hailing from Monterrey, Mexico and serving as the only full-time Mexican driver in the Cup Series, Suarez takes pride in representing his country and began this program as an initiative to grow diversity within the sport.
“We’re very lucky to be in the position of carrying out these kinds of events with a lot of Latinos in this amazing country,” Suarez told The Arizona Republic. “These are my people. I just feel very lucky to get some more support from them. The least I can do is try to put programs like this together for them to feel like home and for them to show up at the race track to support me.”
Although each outing is unique in its own way, something feels bigger about the event in Arizona. Sure, it helps that the one-mile track is NASCAR’s closest major venue to Mexico, but there’s more to it.
Historically, there’s been a heavy Hispanic presence at the Avondale-based track, but that could increase even more in 2022. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Latino population in Phoenix narrowly eclipsed residents who identify as white (or non-Latino) at 42.6%, making this a great opportunity to attract a new demographic to NASCAR in a fun way.
Similar to the 7 Line Army in baseball, named for a New York Mets fans group and the nearby subway, the Daniel’s Amigos program offers fans access to exclusive pre-race festivities, reserved seating, giveaways and one-on-one time with Suarez before he hits the track.
On Sunday, Daniel’s Amigos can indulge in an authentic Mexican breakfast while partying to a live Mariachi band. Suarez will be in attendance for 45 minutes to socialize and take photos with fans, in addition to handing out prizes such as bicycles to children.
“I’m as excited for the event as I am for the race itself,” said Suarez, the 2016 Xfinity Series champion who has a pair of top-10 finishes in 10 Cup races at Phoenix Raceway. “Arizona has been an amazing place for me. I have a lot of support there, there’s (always) a lot of Mexican flags in the grandstands and it just feels like home every single time I’m there.”
Only those who are chosen for the Daniel’s Amigos package will be permitted to participate in the pre-race event, but if you’d like to sign up, there are still tickets available on his site (danielsuarezracing.com).
Suarez’s 200-plus supporters will be seated in sections 138 and 139, which are positioned at the exit of Turn 4, mere feet away from the finish line. Should the driver of the Trackhouse Racing Team No. 99 Camaro score his first Cup win in Ruoff Mortgage 500, his amigos will have a perfect view and an invitation to party with the team in victory lane.
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