Dalton Sargeant Finishes Fourth at Iowa, Christian Eckes Settles for 11th, Hessert Battles for 16th Place Finish
Concord, North Carolina (July 11, 2016) – The second-half of the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season officially kick-off over the weekend with the ABC Supply Co. 150 at Iowa Speedway. The ARCA Series’ eleventh event of the twenty race schedule was run under the lights Saturday night at Iowa’s 7/8 mile paved course.
Dalton Sargeant led the trio of VMS drivers finishing fourth for his sixth top-5 effort of the season. Christian Eckes, the team’s top qualifying driver, made his first career Iowa attempt and third overall series start. He experienced engine gremlins early, but was able to hang on for a respectable 11th place finish. Veteran driver Tom Hessert, who earned his first ARCA Series win at Iowa in 2010, had a forgettable night finishing 16th.
The same team driver roster will be back in action for The Sioux Chief PowerPEX® 200 presented by Jive at Lucas Oil Speedway on Friday, July 22. The race will once again be part of a huge weekend of racing in the Indianapolis area featuring USAC, ARCA and NASCAR.
Dalton Sargeant Roars Back from Deep Starting Position to Finish Fourth at Iowa Speedway
Dalton Sargeant has been a model of consistency early on in his ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards career. The 18-year old finished fourth in Saturday night’s ABC Supply Co. 150 at Iowa Speedway, earning his sixth top-5 finish in just eight attempts. Sargeant has yet to finish outside the top-10 this season.
Sargeant, who struggled most of the day during practice, qualified 11th, but started 29th after crew chief Billy Venturini elected to make post-qualifying changes to Sargeant’s No.55 Toyota Racing Development – Windows 10 Camry to better his car for the 150-lap race.
“I’m extremely happy with today’s finish after the rough beginning we had during practice and qualifying,” said Sargeant. “After struggling during practice and qualifying we opted to make some changes which forced us to the back of the field for the start of the race. But once again the guys at Venturini really nailed it, getting the car dialed in and where it needed to be.”
Accustomed to running in the lead pack, Sargeant overcame a difficult day, giving credit to his team’s tireless effort.
“We had a pretty strong race, we were able to drive up from the 29th position inside the top-10 within the first 50-laps. From there we just started picking away at them. After the start we had it was cool to run up front with the leaders after struggling as much as we did early. I’m just happy we were able to get the car where it needed to be, hats off to the guys on the team for all the hard work and not giving up.”
Despite running a partial 15-race abbreviated schedule and missing out on three first half season races, Sargeant occupies the eighth spot in the championship point standings and finds himself in the thick of the rookie of the year battle with Chase Briscoe.
The ARCA Series will enjoy this coming weekend off before returning to action at Lucas Oil Speedway on Friday, July 22.
Christian Eckes’ Strong Qualifying Effort Spoiled by Engine Component Gremlins at Iowa
Armed with a race winning car, fifteen-year old Christian Eckes finished a disappointing 11th after losing an engine cylinder early in the race during his third career series start with Venturini Motorsports in Saturday night’s ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards – ABC Supply Co. 150 at Iowa Speedway.
“It’s really disappointing to walk away today with this finish,” said Eckes. “We had such a fast Toyota. There’s no doubt in my mind we would’ve competed for the checkered flag tonight. I’m just happy we were able to stay out and get the finish we did.”
Eckes, who qualified second in his No.15 New York Bus Sales Toyota, showed consistency the entire day – topping VMS’s trio of cars on the speed chart during Saturday’s sole practice session.
Unfortunately, Eckes’ career best starting spot would not hold up. After looking under the hood after qualifying, crew chief Jeff McClure noticed a cracked spark plug wire leading to Eckes’ Ilmor 396 engine. After making the fix, the young Eckes would be pushed back to the 28th starting position for the unapproved post qualifying change.
Undaunted, the fast Eckes would see the opportunity as a fun challenge to work his way back towards the front. Unfortunately, his chances were cut short soon after the wave of the green flag as bad luck would once again bite Eckes. After posting the fastest lap times within the first 10-laps of the race, Eckes radioed his crew with trouble, stating he felt he was down on power.
Urged by his team to stay focused, Eckes would manage to battle and work his way inside the top-10 by the midway point of the race. Clearly down on horsepower, Eckes would fall a few positions before finishing in the 11th spot.
After the race it was determined the plug wire replaced post qualifying came off at the onset of the race resulting in loss of power and only seven of the eight cylinders firing under the hood of Eckes’ Toyota.
“Everything seemed to turn bad on us after qualifying. After finding that broken plug wire we made the repair but started at the rear. I was confident we could get back up to the front – we had one of the fastest cars on the track – but we ended up losing another plug wire about lap-10 resulting in a huge loss of power. It was the same issue we had after qualifying. Once we lost that cylinder it was almost impossible to pass anyone. Very disappointing night knowing how good we were,” added Eckes.
In three series starts Eckes has qualified eighth (Nashville), sixth (Madison) and second (Iowa) earning just one ARCA Series top-10 finish. The New York native will look for redemption in his next start at Lucas Oil Raceway on Friday, July 22.
Rough Night on the Track Results in 16th Place Finish for Tom Hessert at Iowa
Tom Hessert, looking to become the first repeat winner at Iowa, had one forgettable night in Saturday’s ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards – ABC Supply Co. 150 at Iowa Speedway.
Hessert, driving his VMS No.25 Flexzilla – Legacy Manufacturing Toyota Camry, finished 16th despite a series of on track incidents which plagued the nine year veteran from the very onset of the race.
After qualifying 13th and starting in the seventh row, Hessert’s day proved to be an uphill battle starting with the drop of the green flag when he was spun from behind before even crossing the stripe on lap-1.
“We were down and out before we even completed the first lap it seemed,” said Hessert. “What a tough way to start a race – everyone stacked up at the beginning and I got the worse of it. We spun, got spun, whatever it was that happened but we were stopped under the start finish line pointing at the wall and the officials never threw the caution. We basically went a lap down before the race even started – it just set the tone – we were way behind after that.”
Surprisingly, with no caution flag to restack the field for a clean start, Hessert would lose almost a full lap to the leaders before completing the first lap. Fighting his way back through the field on a long green flag run, Hessert would manage to crack the top-10. However, in the late stages of the 150-lap event trying to salvage a top-10 finish, Hessert would get loose between turns three and four, forcing his car up the track and into the outside wall. With severe damage to the rear clip of his Toyota, Hessert would pit several times for repairs. In the end, Hessert would salvage a 16th place finish, in what was mostly a forgettable night behind the wheel.
“What makes it even harder to accept was I feel we had a pretty decent car tonight, maybe a fifth to seventh place car. I drove really hard and feel we could’ve gotten a better finish. Unfortunately at the end I made things worse by getting loose going into turn three and backed my car into the outside wall. I feel really bad for all the guys on the team who work really hard. I wish we could’ve had a better day for them.”
Hessert and his Venturini Motorsports backed Toyota team will regroup from a disappointing Iowa weekend and get ready for Lucas Oil Raceway on Friday, July 22.
ABOUT VENTURINI MOTORSPORTS:
Venturini Motorsports (VMS), fielding cars for over 30-years in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, is one of the premier NASCAR driver development programs in the country. Multiple team championships and consistent on-track success, VMS has evolved into one of the most recognizable names in motorsports. Since 2007, VMS has assisted in the career development of notable NASCAR drivers such as Joey Logano, Erik Jones, William Byron, Justin Allgaier, Alex Bowman, Brian Scott, Ryan Blaney, Brennan Poole, Daniel Suarez, Brandon Jones and John Wes Townley. Over the years the Venturini name has become synonymous with modern-day racing in America. In 2012, the Venturini family was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame and now find themselves enshrined with such sports icons as Joe DiMaggio, Mario Andretti, Vince Lombardi, Tommy Lasorda and Rocky Marciano.