Daniel Suarez celebrates after wining the NASCAR Xfinity auto race and season title. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) -- Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto congratulated Daniel Suarez for becoming the first foreign champion in a NASCAR national series.
Suarez, a 24-year-old Mexican, driver won the Xfinity Series title on Saturday.
Nieto tweeted in Spanish to Suarez, and called him, "A pride for Mexico and Latin America."
— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) November 20, 2016
"The very first time that I was going to move to the States, a lot of people told me it was going to be difficult because I was a Mexican driver, and nobody else made it happen in the past," Suarez said. "Right now, honestly, I can tell that to be a Mexican driver, Latin American driver, is something positive."
Suarez thanked Nieto for the tweet and met with fans Sunday morning at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Gracias Señor Presidente! https://t.co/XW7ghTq3U7
— Daniel Suárez (@Daniel_SuarezG) November 20, 2016
NASCAR CEO Brian France praised his Drive for Diversity program that launched Suarez to success.
"I fought for every single thing that makes sense," France said. "My efforts there should never be challenged no matter what my political views may be."
Suarez began racing karts in Mexico and moved to North Carolina as a teenager to pursue a career at NASCAR's national level. He had to teach himself English by watching cartoons on American television and moved through NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program to land a job with JGR.
— Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) November 20, 2016
Suarez is the first D4D driver to win a championship.
"It was a very tough transition. My family was a huge part of it. My friends," Suarez said. "I was by myself without a lot of support, honestly, without money, without a sponsor at the time, and then I had the opportunity with the Drive 4 Diversity."