NEWTON, Iowa — It came down to a 40 mph drag race down pit road, and by a foot, Dalton Sargeant beat Austin Theriault to the line. Both knew it would be for the right to restart in the preferred outside line, and the best opportunity to go to Victory Lane.
Straight from the script, Sargeant, from the top lane, edged ahead of Theriault on the final restart with nine laps remaining, and sailed away, winning the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Fans With Benefits 150 Saturday night at Iowa Speedway.
“This was a really tough race overall,” said Sargeant, driver of the No. 77 Performance Plus Ford. “The biggest thing was my Cunningham Motorsports crew…getting us in and out of pit road in great shape. The car was on the free side in the beginning but it tightened up later in the race. The lane moved up where I thought I was at my best.”
Theriault, in the No. 52 Ken Schrader Racing Ford, worked hard for his runner-up run.
“We had a motor issue right before practice and my guys worked so hard and replaced the motor in less than an hour,” said Theriault. “We got behind a little but fought hard all day to get back in it. That last battle with Dalton was pretty intense. We did what we could…he was just a little better. He had a faster car in the end.”
Once Sargeant finally cleared Theriault, the Boca Raton, Florida driver stretched his advantage to a full second-and-a-half over Theriault at the checkered flag.
Sheldon Creed, in the No. 12 United Rentals-MDM Motorsports Toyota, finished a career-best third after leading 11 laps.
“We were tight in the center and loose off,” said Creed. “It was tough racing back in the pack, but once we got into the top-five everybody’s a little racier and we got in a better groove. This track’s a lot of fun to drive. Tight in the beginning and loose in the end worked out pretty good for us tonight.”
Sargeant had a seven second lead late in the going before the final caution came out when Eric Caudell spun on the backstretch.
“The caution was the last thing I wanted to see,” Sargeant said. “It definitely made me nervous, but my guys executed the pit stop perfectly. The General Tires really performed tonight.”
With only five cars left on the lead lap, Sargeant and the rest of the lead lap machines had no choice but to pit for four fresh General Tires for the final restart. From there it was a drag race down pit road between Sargeant and Theriault, each bouncing off the other to get the edge.
“I think it really did come down to that,” Theriault said. “I felt like the top line was moving a little better, and that would have been our shot to win it. We may have been able to hold him off but he was overall a little better than us.”
Michael Self, who led 33 laps, was a contender all night and finished fourth in the No. 28 Sinclair Oil Chevrolet despite rear-end damage from an earlier spin. Kyle Weatherman also spent time up front, leading six laps before settling for fifth in the No. 78 Turn One Condos-Mason Mitchell Motorsports Chevrolet.
General Tire polesitter Shane Lee, in the No. 22 Big Tine Ford, led the first 58 laps — more than anyone — before first-round pit stops shuffled him back in the order. Lee continued to fade from there, finishing 11th.
Once Sargeant took control on lap 109 of the 150-lap race, he only gave the lead up once, to Theriault, who led the 141st lap.
Vinnie Miller finished a career-best sixth in the No. 41 Master Mfg. Inc. Toyota with Spencer Davis trailing in seventh in the No. 25 Pinty’s Toyota. Christian Eckes was eighth in the No. 15 New York Bus Sales Toyota, Bret Holmes ninth in the No. 23 Holmes II Excavation-Southern States Bank Chevy, and Gus Dean 10th in the No. 32 GREE Cooling Products Toyota.
The next event for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is the Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway Friday night, July 21.