MOORESVILLE, N.C. (July 10, 2017) – They say history has a way of repeating itself and for Cunningham Motorsports it is certainly true at Iowa Speedway, as it continues to be the most winningest team at the 7/8-mile track. At the halfway point of the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season, Dalton Sargeant brought his No. 77 Performance Plus Motor Oil Ford Fusion to victory lane in the Fans with Benefits 150, nearly one year after the No. 77 car won at Iowa with Chase Briscoe. The victory marks Sargeant’s second win of 2017 and Cunningham’s fifth win at the famed short track.
Sargeant started from the fourth position, but by the opening lap had moved into second behind Cunningham Motorsports teammate Shane Lee. Crew chief Chad Bryant and Sargeant elected for a bold pit strategy that kept them off pit road during the first two cautions that fell before lap 45. By lap 50, Sargeant had moved back to sixth as cars with fresher tires took over the top positions. On lap 61 the yellow flag flew once again and this time Sargeant opted to make his way down pit road for four fresh General Tires and Sunoco fuel. After restarting ninth on lap 68, the 19-year-old quickly worked his way back to the top-five and by lap 80 was once again up to the second position. From there, it didn’t take long for Sargeant to chase down the leader and move into first, leading for the first time on lap 109.
“The No. 77 Performance Plus Motor Oil, Cunningham Motorsports Ford Fusion was really competitive as soon as it rolled off the hauler,” said Sargeant. “We changed a few things to adapt to the changing track and I changed a few things about how I drove the car but all in all we knew we were going to compete at the front of the field. The racing at Iowa Speedway is always so much fun and this race didn’t disappoint either. Racing against my Cunningham Motorsports teammate for the early lead, racing three-wide and up against the wall all night, it really puts on a great show for the fans and it certainly was a good time sitting in the seat.”
Sargeant led from lap 109 until the final caution flew on lap 133 and the No. 77 Performance Plus Motor Oil Ford Fusion came to pit road and received four tires and enough fuel to make it to the end. The final restart came with only nine laps remaining and featured the two championship contenders, Austin Theriault and Dalton Sargeant. The two remained side-by-side until Sargeant cleared the No. 52 car on the backstretch and led the closing laps of the Fans with Benefits 150.
“I knew we needed those four tires on the last pit stop to stay in the lead,” said crew chief Chad Bryant. “He was really aggressive on that last restart and he knew he had the winning car. I’m really proud of the way he drove the car all night long with the changing track conditions and weaving in and out of lap traffic. He stayed patient throughout the night and put the whole race together from start to finish. Dalton has what it takes to win and we’re definitely not done racing for this championship.”
In that championship race where every position matters, Sargeant’s second victory came at just the right time. Gaining 15-points on point leader Theriault, the win not only helped in the championship run, but gave the No. 77 team a momentum push going into the second half of the season.
“This win couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Sargeant. “We started the year off strong with the win back at Salem in April and we’d been close a few other races so to finally have everything come together was great for our team. I don’t think there’s a better way to go into the second half of the season. We have the momentum we need to keep going and the guys at the shop haven’t stopped putting everything they have into these cars so I think we’re in really good shape heading into the last ten races.”
The Cunningham team will have a well-deserved week off before kicking off the second-half of the season at Lucas Oil Raceway for the Lucas Oil 200 on July 21.
Until then, keep up with Cunningham Motorsports on Facebook and Instagram (@CunninghamRace) and on Twitter (@Cunningham_Race). Head to www.cunninghamrace.com for more news. You can follow Dalton on social media as well through Facebook (@DaltonSargeantRacing) and Twitter and Instagram (@DaltonSargeant).
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