With the Auto Club 400 taking place near Los Angeles on Sunday, several drivers wanted to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant and the other victims of the tragic Jan. 26 helicopter crash. Ryan Blaney and William Byron both drove cars with custom Bryant tribute paint schemes while Daniel Suarez wore custom shoes and gloves. He also donned a No. 24 Lakers jersey prior to the race.
Always special coming to Cali. Seeing all the fans & #DanielsAmigos out there. Thanks for always making me feel just like home! 🇲🇽— Daniel Suárez (@Daniel_SuarezG) March 2, 2020
P28 yesterday. Didn’t have the speed or grip that we needed, but we madw the most from of we had! We’ll keep working & building! 💪🏽🟡🟣#teamTOYOTA pic.twitter.com/XszBLbpX0u
Suarez posted a photo on Twitter following the Auto Club 400 that showed him during driver introductions. He was wearing his firesuit but had the top tied around his waist in order to show off the Bryant jersey.
As the driver of the No. 96 Toyota wrote, he didn't finish in an ideal position (28th overall), but he received a warm welcome from the Southern California fans. Suarez had paid tribute to Bryant and all of the victims of the helicopter crash in multiple ways, which the fans genuinely appreciated.
In addition to wearing the jersey, Suarez also listed the names of all nine victims above the passenger door during Sunday's race. He wanted to pay tribute to everyone involved while competing with his fellow drivers.
While he may not have finished among the top drivers on Sunday, Suarez did help raise some money for MambaOnThree. He promised to auction off his custom Bryant shoes and gloves following Sunday's race and give the proceeds to the victims' families.
"It is my biggest honor to wear these gloves and shoes this weekend in California, as a tribute to Kobe, Gianna, and the seven other victims from the tragic helicopter crash, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Ara Zobayan, Sarah Chester and Payton Chester," Suarez said in a statement on his website.
"The shoes and gloves will be signed and auctioned (link below), and 100% of the proceeds will benefit the MambaOnThree Foundation (kindly set up by Vanessa Bryant to support the families of the victims of the crash.) A guaranteed minimum of $5000 will be donated. Auction ends March 6th, 12 pm EST."
The eBay auction has raised nearly $5,000 with three days remaining, which was the minimum donation that Suarez would be making to the fund. Now the only question remaining is "by how much will he exceed his original goal?"
(Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)