For the last few seasons, Dalton Sargeant has definitely gotten around. Not just on the racetrack, but all over the country too. Sargeant has made a very impressive list of race starts across multiple divisions.
Since teaming with the Bond Suss number-55 Super Late Model team, Sargeant has added to that list even further, including some races in the Northeast. The first trip North was to the Oxford Plains Speedway for a special Non-Winners race for drivers that had not won in the Pro All Stars Series North division in 2016. In addition to bragging rights, money, and a trophy, guaranteed starting positions for the prestigious Oxford 250 were on the line. Sargeant notched a third-place finish in his first outing to OPS and locked himself into the 250 for this coming Sunday.
“I’m pretty excited. I think it’s going to be a tough race. I’d say it’s the biggest race up North for Super Late Models so it’s going to be really cool to go up there and compete with all those guys,” Sargeant told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Being locked in already to the Oxford 250 is a pretty big deal because it can be pretty hectic with the whole way you qualify into the race. If you have a bad draw you can be starting at the end of a heat race and have to work your way up and get to the top four. It’s pretty tough when you got a couple laps to do it, especially at a place like that where the racing is so tight and tough.”
While the guaranteed start brings some calm to the Sargeant camp, some local knowledge is also giving the team an extra edge.
“We’re kind of partnering with TJ Bracket in the 61 car. They’ve been racing up there each and every week, fine tuning their setup. We work together on a lot of things so it’s cool knowing they’ve been running pretty well up there and hopefully when we go back this week we’ll be even stronger together. All my guess at Bond Suss Racing do such a great job brining a good car to the track every week. We’ve been so strong throughout the entire year always running up in the front.”
While the team goes into the weekend with confidence and a solid setup, they are making one big change under the hood.
“When we ran the Non-Qualifiers race we ran with a bigger engine. We ran with our Hamner, what we normally run down south,” Sargeant explained. “We’re going back this time with a crate engine. I think it’s a better option for us. When we were up there last time we felt like the bigger engine hurt us on the long runs at the end. I feel real confident going back with a crate engine. I think it’s going to help out a lot. Just managing the tires and stuff plus momentum around that place once you get in a groove the crate engine is going to help you out with the roll and stuff, but the car chassis will be the same.”
Running up north has also presented a new challenge for Sargeant to overcome. He’s been working hard on conquering the flat track, something that he felt has not been his forte in previous starts.
“The toughest part about these flatter tracks, especially the ones I’ve run up North, is just how round they are. It’s a fine balance on setting your car up, whether or not you want it to be a little free. But you may think as the race goes on it’s going to get worse and worse and you’re really going to have to manage it a little bit, it might get a little tight with the possibility of wearing out your right-front tire. It might get real tight where you can’t roll any speed through the corners. That’s the toughest part for me is fine balancing my car and using what’s better for the track I’m at. I feel like I’m getting better at it every time I go to one of these flat circle tracks. You don’t really have the banking to rely on, that’s definitely a challenge, but I’m getting used to it and starting to figure it out.”
While the July 3 appearance at Oxford has given Sargeant experience, he has also gained much momentum in the last month, the majority of which has come from his first ARCA Racing Series win in Berlin, Michigan on August 6.
“(My confidence) is really high, the ARCA win definitely helped boost my confidence. That was on a flat circle track in Berlin. That gives me even more confidence going into the Oxford 250. I’m pretty excited. I’m relaxed with what we’ve got going into it.”
Sargeant has a lot of respect for the 250’s legacy and knows full well a win on Sunday will rank up high on the career resume.
“I’d say it would be second to the Snowball Derby and tied with Winchester (400). Out of my career, it’s tough to say. Winning this would be as good as winning a large ARCA race. I’d definitely put it there with winning at Berlin, I’d put it with my K&N win out West and coming runner-up in the Snowball Derby. It’d be a huge deal. You look at all the names in the past, so if you’re able to go up there and compete for the win is pretty honorable.”
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, MA, Long Island) – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Sargeant Motorsports