Dalton Sargeant charges into ARCA Salem to win Kentuckiana Ford 200
Boca Raton, Florida’s Dalton Sargeant settled into his own ZIP code Sunday afternoon at Salem Speedway and put a major-league whooping on the field to win the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200. Sargeant, who was himself a lap down at one point, got four fresh General Tires under caution late in the going and checked out from there to earn his second career ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards victory. In the end, Sargeant, in the No. 77 Big Tine Ford, was the only driver to complete all 200 laps.
“The biggest thing was working on long green flag runs … the guys at Cunningham Motorsports did an awesome job,” said Sargeant. “The General Tires were incredible.”
“We got a lap down on that long green flag run. My crew chief Chad Bryant just kept reiterating: take your time, just race the race track — and it paid off. This is definitely a difficult race. Our No. 77 Big Tine Cunningham Ford was amazing. I’m looking forward to Talladega.”
Gus Dean, in his first Salem attempt, looked like an old pro, finishing second in the No. 32 GREE Cooling Products Toyota.
“I knew it was going to be challenging … to run in the top five; but this Win-Tron team is fully capable of doing anything and everything on that track,” said Dean. “We went a lap down, but we never got discouraged. This feels amazing; we really needed this. These General Tires are incredible; they just never quit. Best tires I’ve ever raced on.”
Dean tangled with Christian Eckes early on and both cars spun in turn two. While Dean went a lap down, Eckes took the opportunity to pit for four General Tires. Back under green, Eckes quickly drove through the field and passed race leader Travis Miller on the 53rd lap. Once Eckes had the lead, and on newer tires, the Middletown, New York, rookie drove away from the field. But after leading 91 laps, Eckes now found himself on older tires while Sargeant, Dean and the rest of the front-runners pitted for new tires under caution on lap 135. Once the field went green, Sargeant drove to the front in no time, while Eckes continued to fade. From there, Sargeant led the final 57 laps.
Kyle Weatherman, in Mason Mitchell’s No. 78 Turn 1 Condos Chevrolet, finished third. Weatherman was in contention for the win all the way through but got caught on pit road on a green flag stop on lap 130. Then, after the long green flag run, the caution finally came out while Weatherman was receiving service.
“We had an awesome car. Thanks to everyone at Mason Mitchell Motorsports,” said Weatherman. “We had a little problem on pit road; it was partially my fault. I felt like we had the best car here; we’re killing it. Once we get our little stuff cleaned up, we’ll be fine.”
Sargeant’s Cunningham Motorsports teammate Shane Lee finished fourth in the No. 22 Big Tine Ford.
“We had a pretty good car,” said Lee. “We started off really good but I ran it too hard and got two laps down. We put four tires on it, and it really came to life. Not a bad day. Congrats to my teammate. They were the best today.”
Austin Theriault, in Ken Schrader’s No. 52 Ford, finished fifth in his first Salem attempt.
“We could have done better, but we took tires on the green flag, then the caution came out,” said Theriault.
“I’m excited with the top five. If we keep running like this, we’ll get another win,” added the Daytona winner.
If the pit stops didn’t cycle just right for Theriault or Weatherman, they worked perfectly for Sargeant. The last time an ARCA winner lapped the entire field was in 2006 at Michigan International Speedway, when David Stremme accomplished the feat. The enormity of what he had accomplished was not lost on Sargeant.
“It’s just a testament to this Cunningham Motorsports team. They’re champions; they really are the best at what we do. I’m very aware of all the great history here at Salem Speedway and all the great winners who have come before me. By far the biggest win of my career. My guys couldn’t work any harder. We have a lot of great momentum. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Zane Smith (Venturini Motorsports); Bret Holmes (Bret Holmes Racing); Eckes (Venturini Motorsports); Tony Mrakovich (Ken Schrader Racing); and Miller (MDM Motorsports), who led the first 52 laps, completed the top-10 finishers, respectively.
Just two cautions for minor incidents slowed the field for 16 laps, while long green flag runs prevailed throughout the 200-lap show, keeping drivers and pit crews on their toes from start to finish.
It’s a tight turnaround from here as the General Tire 200 at Talladega Superspeedway looms large in the windshield, coming next Friday, May 5, live on FS1 at 6 p.m. Eastern.
- Dalton Sargeant
- Gus Dean
- Kyle Weatherman
- Shane Lee
- Austin Theriault
- Zane Smith
- Bret Holmes
- Christian Eckes
- Tony Mrakovich
- Travis Miller
- Mason Mingus
- Riley Herbst
- Raphael Lessard
- Thomas Praytor
- A.J. Fike
- Mike Basham
- Brad Smith
- Will Kimmel
- Con Nicolopoulos
- Eric Caudell
- Mark Meunier
- Steve Fox