Dalton Sargeant surges late for second-consecutive ARCA win at LOR

ARCA

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

BROWNSBURG, Ind. — Dalton Sargeant didn’t have the best car for most of the night at Lucas Oil Raceway. But when the caution flag flew at the perfect time, his Cunningham Motorsports team was ready to strike.

Sargeant pitted under a late caution for light rain and maneuvered his way through the field over a final 12-lap sprint to claim Friday’s Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200, his third ARCA Racing Series win of 2017.

Despite entering the night second in the championship standings, it appeared Sargeant would be trying to salvage a good points day for much of the evening. With an ill-handling No. 77 Ford Sargeant ran mid-pack for much of the race, staying on the lead lap and hoping for an opportunity to rise.

“We started the race off a little bit rough,” Sargeant said. “We were free at the start and I just couldn’t get around anybody.”

Looking for a way to the front, Sargeant’s Cunningham crew elected to try a different strategy. When most of the leaders pitted on a Lap 127 caution, Sargeant was one of two drivers – joining leader Chad Finley – that stayed out. The premise behind the call was simple: if another caution were to fly late in the race, Sargeant could come to pit road and storm through the field with fresh rubber.

The first caution flew too soon – before Lap 150 – but when the heavens opened upon the .686-mile oval on Lap 174 Sargeant’s crew knew what to do.

After 15 cautions laps the field returned to green, and Sargeant maneuvered his way to the lead and a surprising victory – one that draws him to within 130 points of leader Austin Theriault in the championship battle.

“We were definitely hoping for that caution,” Sargeant admitted. “We didn’t think it was going to come because of the rain, but that definitely helped us out a lot. We made the call not to pit when most of the other guys decided to come, and we felt like we just had to wait a little bit longer and it turned out to be the right call.

“That’s two in a row now, so I can’t be more thankful for the opportunity that Briggs Cunningham and his wife has given me to allow me to drive their race cars. It’s been an absolute blast and I can’t say thank you enough to the guys at Big Tine.”

After leading the cars on the other strategy, Michael Self tied his best finish of the year in second. However the run brought the returning veteran little solace.

“It’s tough, man. Really hard,” Self said. “Up until about 50 to go I thought we were about a seventh-place car. We struggled with the balance. We were way, way too free to begin the race. Finally the MDM guys made a great adjustment on that last stop. We came and got four tires and they fixed it right up.

“The newer tires on the (No.) 77 definitely helped. We may have burned up our tires a little too much racing the No. 12 (Creed) early on.”

Chad Finley came home in third after struggling in dirty air, with Theriault and Sheldon Creed rounding out the top five. Gus Dean, Zane Smith, Bret Holmes, Shane Lee and Christian Eckes completed the top 10.

Next up for the ARCA Racing Series is a second trip to Pocono Raceway on Friday, July 28 for the ModSpace 150.

Results

  1. Dalton Sargeant
  2. Michael Self
  3. Chad Finley
  4. Austin Theriault
  5. Sheldon Creed
  6. Gus Dean
  7. Zane Smith
  8. Bret Holmes
  9. Shane Lee
  10. Christian Eckes
  11. Thad Moffitt
  12. Bobby Gerhart
  13. Riley Herbst
  14. Spencer Davis
  15. A.J. Fike
  16. Mike Basham
  17. Thomas Praytor
  18. Dale Shearer
  19. Mark Meunier
  20. Mike Senica
  21. Trevor Noles
  22. Justin Fontaine
  23. Austin Cindric
  24. Brad Smith
  25. Zach Ralston
  26. Will Kimmel
  27. Con Nicolopoulos
  28. Eric Caudill
  29. Kevin Hinckle

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