Friday’s Monster Energy Cup Series qualifying session at ISM Raceway featured some unlikely fireworks in a sparring Daniel Suárez and Michael McDowell, two drivers who are probably not on a fan’s list of those most probably to tangle with one another, on pit road.
Suárez struggled in the first round of qualifying as he set a lap time of 26.379 seconds, placing him a season-worst twenty-eighth and nearly four seconds behind pole winner Ryan Blaney. However, Suárez accused McDowell, who qualified ahead of him in twenty-seventh (26.371 seconds), of hindering his progress and attempted to collide with him.
Upon exiting their cars on pit road, Suárez confronted a still-helmeted McDowell, who shoved him. Suárez retaliated by yanking McDowell, turning the two around before pushing him to the down. McDowell’s Front Row Motorsports crewmen pushed Suárez aside and onto the hood of McDowell’s #34 car, while McDowell got up and began pulling Suárez’s leg. The tugging match continued until they were eventually separated.
“Just miscommunication on the race track,” McDowell explained in an interview with Fox Sports. “We all kind of waited until the end and then you just had a lot of traffic, so just unfortunate. He was upset that I held him up on his good lap and then he tried to crash us and I just didn’t appreciate it.”
“It was a lack of respect,” Suárez said in his interview. “Track position is big in races these days and you have to qualify well to have a good stall on pit road and obviously to have a good start in the race. The race is long so you can always overcome that, but it’s just a lack of respect.
“Everyone here in the garage knows that the second lap is a good one, you have to try to get out of the way if somebody’s coming in the hot lap. [McDowell] didn’t; he killed me in one corner, I thought he was going to get out of the way in that second corner and he didn’t. And I almost wrecked him, and then he was disappointed because I was trying to wreck him afterwards.”
Darrell Wallace Jr. tweeted he, Blaney, and second-placed Chase Elliott “might want to start inviting (Suárez) to everything”, to which he responded: