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NASCAR’s exclusive club of international race winners

NASCAR’s exclusive club of international race winners

He joins a very small list of drivers born outside the United States who have gone on to win at the Cup level, and is now the only one to reach Victory Lane in all three national divisions.

In the Xfinity and Truck Series, 24 races have been won by international drivers. But in the Cup Series, it’s far rarer with just seven victories between five different drivers. 

The group of international drivers to win at the top level of NASCAR is by no means large, but it does include some very big names. 

Mario Andretti – Italy

Mario Andretti was born in a part of Italy that now belongs to Croatia, and his family emigrated to the USA after World War II. He became a naturalized American citizen in 1964, and later got his only Cup win in NASCAR’s biggest race — the 1967 Daytona 500. Driving for Holman-Moody, he led over half the race en route to a dominant victory.

Race winner Mario Andretti

Race winner Mario Andretti

Photo by: Ford Motor Company

Earl Ross – Prince Edward Island, Canada

Earl Ross was the first and surprisingly only Canadian driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race, doing so in 1974. Driving for Junior Johnson, he beat Buddy Baker to win at Martinsville Speedway. The Canadian took the lead on Lap 422 of 500 and never looked back, winning by over a lap. 

Juan Pablo Montoya – Bogotá, Colombia

It was over 40 years until an international driver won again at the Cup level, but the person who did it should be of no surprise. Juan Pablo Montoya has proven he can drive just about everything, winning seven Formula 1 GPs and two Indy 500s, and that’s just scratching the surface of his remarkable career. He won in his rookie year as a Cup driver, taking the checkered flag at Sonoma Raceway in 2007. Montoya would go on to win one more time at another road course, taking victory for Chip Ganassi Racing at Watkins Glen in 2010.

Victory lane: race winner Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates

Victory lane: race winner Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates

Photo by: Todd Corzett

Marcos Ambrose – Tasmania, Australia

The two-time Australian Supercars champion was a force to be reckoned with on NASCAR’s road courses, winning five times in the Xfinity Series. As a Cup driver, he came close several times before finally breaking through with a victory at Watkins Glen in 2011. He would go back-to-back and win at The Glen again in 2012, in what is remembered as one of the most iconic finishes in NASCAR history.

Victory lane: race winner Marcos Ambrose, Petty Motorsport Ford celebrates

Victory lane: race winner Marcos Ambrose, Petty Motorsport Ford celebrates

Photo by: Adriano Manocchia

Daniel Suarez – Monterrey, Mexico

In 2016, Suarez was one of NASCAR’s most promising young stars. He won the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship and was promoted to the Cup Series by Joe Gibbs Racing after Carl Edwards’ sudden exit. However, after many struggles at JGR and later Stewart-Haas Racing, many thought Suarez’s chance at a successful Cup career had already passed. But a new team gave Suarez a new opportunity to prove the critics wrong.

At Trackhouse Racing, he has already led more laps this season than any of his previous seasons combined. He has been in contention for wins on numerous occasions, but bad luck continued to plague the 30-year-old racer. Finally, it all came together last Sunday at Sonoma Raceway, in his 195th career start. Suarez led 47 of 110 laps and held off Chris Buescher to take the checkered flag, making history as the first Mexican-born race winner in NASCAR Cup Series history.

Race winner Daniel Suarez, TrackHouse Racing, Onx Homes / Renu Chevrolet Camaro

Race winner Daniel Suarez, TrackHouse Racing, Onx Homes / Renu Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Jasen Vinlove / NKP / Motorsport Images


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