MARNE, Mich. (August 6, 2016) – As difficult as it was for several, Dalton Sargeant kept himself out of trouble for 200 laps and out in front when it counted the most to win the action-packed, spark-filled Berlin ARCA 200 Saturday night at Berlin Raceway.
Sargeant, in the No. 55 Toyota Racing Development-Windows 10 Toyota, drove away from Chase Briscoe over the final 10 laps, denying Briscoe what would have been his fifth consecutive win, but ensuring himself of his career-first ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards victory in his 11th series start.
“This is amazing,” Sargeant said. “I can’t thank my guys enough at Venturini Motorsports…they killed it tonight.”
Sargeant, who led twice for 28 laps, got a little help on lap 181 of the 200-lap race when leaders Josh Williams and Briscoe spun off the backstretch after making contact with one another. Briscoe was able to restart despite the frontend damage to his No. 77 Big Tine Ford while Williams found his No. 6 Musselman’s Apple Sauce Chevrolet stuck between styrofoam blocks off turn three.
“It was pretty crazy out there,” Sargeant continued. “I knew how this race was going to unfold. I saw how rough the 6 was being with the 77 in front of me. The 6 car was really rough on a restart before that. Still, we were strong on that final restart and showed how good our Venturini Motorsports car was. I just had to pace myself, be smart with my tires and expect that the race would turn out like it did. Hats off to this team. We’ve been so close so many times. It feels so good to come out and finally get the win.”
After the incident, Briscoe’s car didn’t have the same get-up-and-go and he had to settle for second, about five lengths behind the winner.
“At the beginning of the race, we really struggled battling a tight issue. But when we came down for four tires on that second stop and took some swings with the chassis, it freed up the car and it started to come to life.
“Disappointed in the outcome. I got into (turn) three too hot…got into his (Williams) door and passed him, but I gave it back to him. Got into him again and gave the spot right back. At the end there, I was completely under him. Once I passed him, I knew I was going to get hit down in one and two. Then coming off two, I felt like he ran me out off the track. It’s unfortunate…you have two guys going for the championship that have two wrecked cars now.”
Williams was scored in the 10th position despite not being able to finish the last 19 laps.
“He (Briscoe) didn’t want us to win,” Williams said. “They can build new race cars every week; we can’t. We’ll be at the dirt track (Springfield) though in a steel bodied 105 (inch wheel base) car.”
Matt Kurzejewski survived the carnage and finished third in his No. 52 Ansell-Menards Toyota.
“We got lucky tonight,” Kurzejewski said. “We didn’t have a third-place car, but we had a third-place team tonight and a third-place crew. They never give up…just an amazing bunch of guys here at Ken Schrader Racing. Brought our Ansell-Menards Toyota home unscathed. There are a lot here tonight that can’t say that.”
Kurzejewski was no doubt also referring to an earlier incident on a restart that took out several leaders including Tom Hessert, John Wes Townley, Quinnton Bear, Clayton Weatherman and Landon Huffman.
The crash happened on lap 113 when Townley got into the left-rear corner of Hessert’s machine which sent both cars careening up into the wall in turns one and two. Once Townley and Hessert were hooked, Bear, Weatherman and Huffman, with nowhere to go, piled in behind. Hessert, Weatherman and Bear were able to restart, albeit with heavily-damaged cars. Townley and Huffman were through for the night.
As disappointing as it was for all involved, it had to be especially heart-wrenching for Hessert, who dominated the front half of the race in the No. 25 So Good! Entertainment-Relax Wraps Toyota, leading the first 108 laps before the incident. Hessert also earned a new one-lap track record earlier in the day, winning his fourth career Menards Pole presented by Ansell.
Once the wreck was cleaned up, Williams took control, leading 63 laps before he and Briscoe locked horns.
Bret Holmes finished a career-best fourth in the No. 23 Holmes II Excavation Chevrolet.
“We learned a lot tonight,” Holmes said. “This is a challenging track and we came out with our best finish. We just need to keep our heads up and keep going, and that first win will come.”
AJ Fike finished fifth in the No. 27 MatrixCare-Consonus Healthcare-RD McMillen Ford.
“Stayed out of trouble and got a good finish out of it. That’s about all you can say about this one tonight. We’ll take it and go on to Springfield.”
Clair Zimmerman finished a career-best sixth in the No. 30 Huntilar Ford, the last car on the lead lap. Hessert battled back to finish seventh. Thomas Praytor was eighth in the No. 9 DK-LOK Ford. Ed Pompa finished a career-best ninth in the No. 10 Milwaukee Crusher-Double H Ranch Chevrolet.
The next event for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is the 54th running of the Central Illinois SuperChevyStores.com 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds mile dirt Sunday, August 21.