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ARCA: Patience Pays Off for Dalton Sargeant in Series Debut

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When the checkered flag fell in the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 at Salem Speedway on Sunday afternoon, Dalton Saregant finished third in his ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards debut.

The 0.555-mile historic oval with 33-degree banking is old and worn out, and requires drivers to manage their tires and remain patient over the course of 200 laps. As if the rough surface at Salem wasnt enough of a challenge, the track features two completely different ends. Drivers will typically run through the middle in turn one and two and right up against the wall in turn three and four.

Sargeant was 10th in opening practice and seventh in final practice on Saturday afternoon before turning a lap at 116.095 mph (17.210 seconds) in Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell. The lap would be good enough for a third place starting spot behind Chase Briscoe and Venturini Motorsports teammate Christopher Bell.

Once the green flag flew at Salem on a warm and sunny afternoon, Sargeant would drop a few positions but then settle in at the back-half of the top-10 for the early stages of the race. Sargeant indicated after qualifying on Saturday that proper pacing and management of equipment would be important for the race.

As the race played out, Sargeant was able to pick up several positions and was sixth on the final restart at Lap 153. Sargeant was able to gain three more positions on the final run as tires and pit strategy leveled off.

I dont think you can be ashamed of a top-three finish for your ARCA Racing Series debut, the 18-year-old Sargeant told Rubbings Racing with a big grin on pit road at Salem.

Im just really thankful for the opportunity to drive for Venturini Motorsports in the No. 55 Windows 10 Toyota Camry. I had a great car all day. We struggled a bit at the start of the day. Luckily there at the end we were able to catch a few breaks and roll the top on that final restart and pick up a few positions.

I think we were one of the fastest cars there at the end and I was just hoping for a caution to fall so we could get up there and race with teammate Christopher Bell for the lead, but congrats to him on taking home the win. Overall, its an honor to be here and I cant be more than thankful for the opportunity.

Sargeants ARCA debut was also his first experience working with veteran crew chief Billy Venturini. Venturini is no stranger to the ARCA Racing Series as a driver, having recorded one win, 28 top-five and 75 top-10 finishes in 162 starts between 1994 and 2007.

Its a blast. I dont think there is anybody better in the ARCA Racing Series to learn from, Sargeant said of working with Billy Venturini.

Hes definitely proven himself time after time and I think just being able to work with him for these 15 races at Venturini Motorsports is really going to improve my driving skills and my talents.

Salem marked the first event of the season for Sargeant, who will run the remaining schedule, with the exception of Madison and the two dirt events (Illinois State Fairgrounds and DuQuoin State Fairgrounds), with Venturini Motorsports.

Next up on the schedule is the General Tire 200 on Friday, April 29 at the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway. While Sargeant has experience in a variety of race cars from professional karting, to European Formula open-wheel cars, to NASCAR Whelen All-American Stock Cars, to Super Late Model Stock Cars, to K&N Pro Series cars, he has never competed on a track greater than one-mile in length during his career.

I think Im more so relying on Billy. I think overall hes one of the best guys to listen to about going there, Sargeant said when asked who he would talk to in advance of hitting the track at Talladega.

Of course youre going to be a little bit nervous. Its going to be my first track over a mile, but I think at the end of the day you have to approach it like any other race and stay calm and be patient and work your way to the front.

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About Brian Eberly

Brian Eberly (@beberly18) is a Certified Public Accountant and Manager of Field Accounting at a transportation company, but when he isnt at the office you can most likely find him at a racetrack, watching a race on television, or following the action on social media. Eberly became interested in NASCAR in the nineties when Jeff Gordon was dominating the scene, and became hooked when he attended his first race with his dad in 1999 at Michigan International Speedway. Eberly has been writing about NASCAR since 2012 for various websites. An Illinois native and Northern Illinois University graduate, Eberly travels throughout the Midwest covering racing events in multiple series. When not following racing, he can be found on the golf course (usually trying to find his golf ball) and following the Bears, Blackhawks, Cubs, Bulls, and of course the NIU Huskies.

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