CHARLOTTE, N.C. and BOCA RATON, Fla. – Story by Race Chaser Online Mid-Atlantic Correspondent Marshall Gabell – Audio by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman – Wauters Motorsports photo –
Dalton Sargeant has never had the “usual” background for a driver rising up the ranks.
His racing adventure has spanned across two continents and three extremely different forms of racing — from North America and England to go-karts, formula competition and stock cars.
Now, weeks before the 2016 season kicks off, the Boca Raton, Fla. native is anticipating another big move – to a national level.
Sargeant, who will turn 18 this March, moved from the United States to Switzerland in 2012 to jump-start his racing career, competing in international karting. Soon after, he began testing European Formula open-wheel cars for multiple teams. However, Sargeant’s heart and soul in the present lies in stock cars.
Two seasons ago, he returned to the United States and began running in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series late model ranks for multi-time champion Lee Pulliam’s team, where he racked up two wins and embarked on his dream towards a NASCAR career.
Through learning and progression, Sargeant continued to advance, signing a ride with HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East for the 2015 season – and his results turned many heads.
He opened the season with a runner-up finish at New Smyrna Speedway during Speedweeks, stamping his name as a serious threat to the competition, and followed it up with a win in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West at Kern County Raceway Park in March. That early season surge also gained him a lot of media and fan attention, allowing his story and background to be revealed.
After that, Sargeant went on to score six top five finishes in the East, crashing just one car (at Bristol in April) en route to a fourth-place finish in the points standings.
“The entire No. 51 Galt team did an amazing job throughout the season,” Sargeant told Race Chaser Online during the NASCAR Touring Series Champion’s Week festivities. “It seemed like we had a lot of ups and downs. We went from a lot of highs – such as the start of the season — to a wreck in our third race, then rebounded back with several top fives.”
Along with those results in the East, Sargeant’s final results in the West were equally as impressive. Along with his Kern County win, he finished top five in all four events he competed in, scoring two pole awards along the way.
Sargeant credits a ‘never give up’ attitude to his success this season.
“Overall, we kept fighting through and never gave up. I am definitely happy to be able to bring home fourth [in the East championship standings]. Obviously, we were looking for a little bit more, but for my first season in the K&N Pro Series I learned a lot and it was really good for me.”
What’s most impressive though? Sargeant put on those performances in just his second season back in stock cars.
While he had to relearn some aspects of driving the bulkier machines, he persevered through, acting as a sponge and picking up each piece of information needed for him to learn and grow along the way.
“I think, overall, I had to relearn everything a little bit,” Sargeant admitted. “But, at the same time, all the fundamentals of racing I learned from karting and [the formula cars] – that aspect was the same in the stock car racing. But, some of the more key features, such as overtaking and qualifying runs, I definitely had to learn some of that stuff over.”
In addition to his time in the K&N Pro Series, the NASCAR NEXT class member also debuted in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Wauters Motorsports, his first step into the national spotlight.
In four races, he put together two top 10 finishes, including a best result of ninth at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“I had an absolute blast being able to run for Richie Wauters and the No. 5 Galt Toyota Tundra,” Sargeant said of his four Truck Series starts. “It was definitely a huge learning experience for me. Hopefully, I will be able to make a few more Truck Series starts next season, but [there’s] no affirmative plans at this time.”
Sargeant also remarked that running the Truck races, alongside marquee drivers, including 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch and four-time Camping World Truck Series winner Ryan Blaney, helped his learning process even more.
“Overall, running those four truck races really helped me learn a lot. I was able to go out there and compete with drivers like Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney – and there is no better place to learn then racing around with those guys.”
The current landscape for 2016 is murky for Sargeant, who has no confirmed plans despite taking laps during this weekend’s Daytona ARCA test in a Venturini Motorsports-prepared Toyota. He posted the 47th-fastest speed overall during the two days — making only single-car runs as mandated by officials since he is not yet 18 — and stressed on social media that his purpose was to get clearance to race at Talladega (likely in the April ARCA race) once he comes of age in March.
However, his larger hope appears to be to put together a full-time Truck Series ride — and he said that if the cards were to fall into place, he would enjoy making that step happen with the Wauters team he worked with this year.
“I think so, I hope [that it’s possible],” Sargeant explained when asked about the potential of putting together a full-time Truck Series deal in 2016. “But, nothing is set for 2016, so we are going to keep working at it (for now). Hopefully in the next few weeks we will have a definite plan.”
But, for right now, reflection is the main thing on Sargeant’s mind.
And with a little swagger in his step, he hopes to keep the mentality that brought him so much success in 2015 as he continues taking the racing world by storm.
“I think, so far, for it only being my second season stock car racing, we were very successful,” Sargeant smiled. “At the end of the day, I wanna win every race that I run in. But overall, as long as I continue to learn at the pace I am [I think I will be fine]. I feel like there is a lot more to be learned.”
“As long as I am around a good environment, there is always room to gain – and that is the most important thing for me right now.”
Listen in to an extended cut of Race Chaser Online’s conversation with Dalton Sargeant by clicking on the player below:
About the Writer
Marshall Gabell is the Mid-Atlantic Correspondent for Race Chaser Online, and in addition to his writing duties is also the public relations director for NASCAR Next member Austin Hill. Gabell is currently attending Stephen Decatur High School in Ocean City, Md., and is in his sophomore year. He is just 15 years old.
Email Marshall at: [email protected]
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