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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Daniel Suárez isn't slowing down.
The 22-year-old from Monterrey, Mexico, made it 2-for-2 in 2014 with a dominant performance on the short track at Daytona International Speedway Tuesday to capture the UNOH Battle At The Beach.
“I have no words to explain how I feel right now,” said the victor. “Everyone with the Rev Racing team has been working really hard and I’m thankful for all that the do. I feel lucky to have this opportunity.”
Suárez led the final 119 circuits of the 150-lap event for his third career win. He won the season-opener on Sunday at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway, just down the road from Daytona, and in the process became the first driver since Sean Caisse in 2006 to start a K&N Pro Series East season by winning the first two races on the schedule.
“Our communication (within) the team is good right now,” said Suárez. “Early in the season last year we struggled, but from about the time the good finishes started coming it has gotten better and better.”
Suárez also delivered Rev Racing and NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program its 14th victory since 2010. His first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win was earned in 2013 at Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway.
Austin Hill crossed the finish line second at the .37-mile oval at “The World Center of Racing,” for his second top-five finish in his last three series starts. The 19-year-old from Winston, Ga., won at Dover (Del.) International Speedway last September. A flat tire foiled his effort at New Smyrna and led to a 27th-place finish.
“The car really wasn’t very good in practice, so we took a big swing at it,” Hill said. “I threw a lap up there in qualifying that I knew was pretty good, but I didn’t think it would be second.
“At the end, I think we could’ve had (Suárez), but he was quite a bit faster on the restarts for about five laps and we ran out of time.”
Brandon McReynolds, who will compete fulltime in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West this season, finished third for the second time in a K&N East car having also accomplished the feat at Dover in September 2012.
“Our day was kind of up and down. We put ourselves in a little bind in qualifying, but we marched forward and found ourselves in position at the end,” said McReynolds. “Daniel was just really good. I decided to race everybody right and take what we could get. Anyone in the grandstands here could go out there and run somebody over. I don’t mind roughing somebody up, but I’m not going to take out half of the field.”
Nick Drake and Lee Pulliam rounded out the top five while Kenzie Ruston was sixth, followed by Gray Gaulding, Patrick Staropoli, Scott Heckert and Kaz Grala.
Like Suárez, Pulliam, Ruston and Gaulding have gotten off on the right foot in 2014 with back-to-back top-10 performances.
After the first two events of the campaign, Suárez leads Pulliam in the championship standings by 18 points followed closely by Ruston and Gaulding.
Ben Rhodes, who earned the 21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Brewing Company earlier in the day, settled for a 15th-place finish after he suffered damage from an incident midway through the event.
The UNOH Battle At The Beach doubleheader, which also included a NASCAR Whelen Modified/NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour special event, aired live on Fox Sports 2. The K&N portion of the event will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 5:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1. Suárez's New Smyrna win will air on FOX Sports 1 on Saturday at 9 a.m.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will continue its 2014 campaign with the PittLite 125 on March 15 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Daniel Suarez does a burnout after winning the UNOH Battle At The Beach Tuesday at Daytona International Speedway. Getty Images