Cherry Vanilla Coke Racing: Daniel Suárez Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 at Atlanta Preview

MOORESVILLE, North Carolina (March 11, 2020) – Daniel Suárez and the iconic Coca-Cola brand have enjoyed a fun and flavorful relationship dating back to the Mexican driver’s first full season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2015. They celebrated an Xfinity Series championship together in 2016, and their partnership has grown to be as strong as ever through what is now Suárez’s fourth season in the top-tier NASCAR Cup Series.

 

This weekend, Suárez will help introduce a brand new flavor combination when he gets behind the wheel of his No. 96 Cherry Vanilla Coke Toyota for Gaunt Brothers Racing (GBR) during the Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, just down the road from Coca-Cola headquarters.

 

Cherry Vanilla Coke may be the newest addition to the company’s product lineup, but research shows it’s a pair of flavors its fans have combined on their own using the already existing Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke products – the equivalent of more than 105 million cans of “Cherry Vanilla Coke” since 2017. That’s nearly a can a minute over a three-year span, and the research shows the combination has proven to be most popular on Christmas Day and the month of April.

 

With their racecar adorned with the colorful Cherry Vanilla Coke paint scheme, one of the newest driver-and-team combinations in the NASCAR Cup Series – Suárez and GBR – look to continue their inaugural, full-season run together at the fast, 1.5-mile Atlanta oval. They’re coming off the annual three-race West Coast Swing, where they showed steady progress with finishes of 30th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 28th at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, and 21st at Phoenix Raceway.

 

This weekend, they’ll take to the track where, in his three previous Cup Series appearances, Suárez has a best start of fourth in 2018 with Joe Gibbs Racing and a best finish of 10th from the fifth starting position last season with Stewart-Haas Racing. In two Xfinity Series outings at Atlanta, both with the Gibbs team, he has a best start of third and best finish of seventh, both en route to the series title in 2016. In a pair of NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races at Atlanta, he has a best start and finish of fourth in 2015 driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

 

Crew chief Dave Winston, a native of Miami, Florida, and a veteran of 62 Cup Series races atop the pitbox, called the shots at two previous races at Atlanta. He collaborated with driver Alex Bowman in the No. 23 BK Racing Toyota in the 2014 race, starting 30th and finishing 35th. His driver Michael McDowell started 32nd and finished 33rd in the 2016 race driving the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing entry.

 

This weekend marks the second Atlanta Cup Series start for the No. 96 GBR Toyota. In the 2019 race, driver Parker Kligerman drove it to a 30th-place finish from the 34th starting position.

 

With the colors of the exciting new flavor combination adorning his racecar and firesuit and a legion of Coca-Cola associates and guests rooting them on at their home track, Suárez and his GBR teammates hope to take a giant step forward this weekend at Atlanta after showing steady progress in their first four weekends together this season.

Daniel Suárez: Driver of the No. 96 Cherry Vanilla Coke Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing:
 

You’re introducing the brand new Cherry Vanilla Coke flavor combination at Atlanta this weekend. What does that mean to you?

“Coca-Cola has supported me since 2015 and it’s definitely an honor to be representing such an iconic brand that’s so popular all over the world. I grew up enjoying Coca-Cola in Mexico and I never dreamed I’d be driving a racecar for them in the U.S. It’s very exciting to have the unique Cherry Vanilla Coke paint scheme on my racecar and on my firesuit this weekend. We’ll be doing a lot of really cool things with the Coca-Cola folks this week, leading up to the race. We’ll also have an on-board camera on our racecar all weekend. So I hope we can give them our best result of the season on Sunday.”

 

What’s the key to posting a good result at Atlanta Motor Speedway?

“It’s a very fast mile-and-a-half oval and the surface is very old and very hard on the tires. So you have to have a well-balanced racecar that will make it possible to get the most out of your tire wear each run. You can usually run the top and the bottom of the racetrack, so you have to find where you’re going to get the most out of the car. All of that is why the races at Atlanta are always so exciting.”

 

You and the team nearly scored your first top-20 finish in just your fourth race weekend together Sunday at Phoenix. How do you feel about the progress you and the team have been making?

“The best thing about this team is all the great support we are getting from Coca-Cola, CommScope and Toyota, and we know that there will be a day when we will be competing for race wins with them. It’s obviously very early and everyone has very realistic expectations, considering this is a one-car team that is running the full season for the first time. I’ve said all along that the goal is to go out every weekend and do better than we did last weekend. So far, the results at the end of the race have shown that. But, believe me, it’s a very challenging process and we just have to keep working hard.”

 

No. 96 Cherry Vanilla Coke Toyota Camry Team Report
Race 5 of 36 – Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 – Atlanta
 
Car No. 96: Cherry Vanilla Coke Toyota Camry

At Track PR Contact: Laz Denes with True Speed Communication (Laz.Denes@TrueSpeedCommunication.com)

Primary Team:

 

Driver: Daniel Suárez

Hometown: Monterrey, Mexico

 

Crew Chief: Dave Winston

Hometown: Miami, Florida

 

Car Chief: Mark Hillman

Hometown: Lockport, New York

 

Engine Specialist: Kirk Butterfield

Hometown: Carrollton, Ohio

 

Engine Builder: Toyota Racing Development

Headquarters: Costa Mesa, California

 

Spotter: Steve Barkdoll

Hometown: Garrison, Iowa

Over-The-Wall Crew:

 

Gas Man: Cory White

Hometown: Vinson, Iowa

 

Front Tire Changer: Mike Mead

Hometown: Sherrills Ford, North Carolina

 

Rear Tire Changer: Brandon Traino

Hometown: Cherry Hill, New Jersey

 

Tire Carrier: Mason Harris

Hometown: Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia

 

Jackman: Joel Bouagnon

Hometown: St. Charles, Illinois

 

Windshield: Mark Hillman

Hometown: Lockport, New York

Road Crew:

 

Truck Driver: Gary “Turtle” Clem

Hometown: Eaton, Ohio

 

Shock Specialist: David Stillman

Hometown: Appleton, Wisconsin

 

Mechanic: Evan Snider

Hometown: Scottdale, Pennsylvania

 

Tire Specialist: Liz Prestella

Hometown: South Lake Tahoe, California

 

Mechanic: Cory White

Hometowns: Vinson, Iowa

 

Mechanic: Glenn “Cheeseburger” Hilchey

Hometown: Bennington, Vermont

Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 at Atlanta Notes of Interest:

 

  • After piloting the No. 19 NASCAR Cup Series Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2017 and 2018, then the No. 41 Cup Series entry for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2019, Suárez has joined the single-car No. 96 Toyota Camry effort for Gaunt Brothers Racing (GBR) for the full 2020 season.
  • Suárez will make his 112th career NASCAR Cup Series start in Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 on the 1.5-mile oval at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He has career totals of eight top-five finishes, 32 top-10s and 241 laps led, with an average start of 15.6 and an average finish of 17.3. He also has qualified on the pole twice.
  • In three previous Cup Series outings at Atlanta, Suárez has a best start of fourth in 2018, when he finished 15th in his Gibbs Toyota, and a best finish of 10th from the fifth starting position last year in his Stewart-Haas entry.
  • In a pair of NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Atlanta, Suárez scored a best start of third and a best finish of seventh in his most recent outing en route to the 2016 series championship for the Gibbs team.
  • He also has a pair of NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series outings at Atlanta with a best start and finish of fourth, both in 2015 driving the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.
  • Suárez competed from 2009 through 2014 in the NASCAR Peak Mexico Series. In 76 starts, he earned 10 victories, 26 top-five finishes, 39 top-10s and qualified on the pole 13 times. He had an average start of 8.7, an average finish of 12.4, led 1,216 laps, and had best finishes of second and third in the season standings in 2013 and 2012, respectively.
  • Crew chief Dave Winston, a native of Miami, Florida, and a veteran of 62 Cup Series races atop the pit box, called the shots at two previous races at Atlanta. He collaborated with driver Alex Bowman in the No. 23 BK Racing Toyota in the 2014 race, starting 30th and finishing 35th. His driver Michael McDowell started 32nd and finished 33rd in the 2016 race driving the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing entry.
  • This weekend marks the second Atlanta Cup Series start for the No. 96 Gaunt Brothers Toyota. In the 2019 race, driver Parker Kligerman drove to 30th-place finish from the 34th starting position.
  • At last Sunday’s FanShield 500k on the Phoenix Raceway mile oval, Suárez started 31st and finished 21st. Suárez arrives at Atlanta 31st in the Cup Series standings, 132 points out of first.
  • Coca-Cola and CommScope continue their respective partnerships with Suárez at Gaunt Brothers Racing. The iconic Coca-Cola brand has been with Suárez since 2015 when he won the Xfinity Series rookie-of-the-year title. CommScope, a leader in communication network technology, has been with Suárez through its ARRIS and Ruckus Networks brands since 2014, when he first competed in the Xfinity Series.

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