MIDLAND, N.C. – It may have taken them until the last race of the season to accomplish the feat, but Dalton Sargeant and Bond Suss Racing finally paid a long-awaited visit to victory lane on Saturday afternoon.
Sargeant led the final 45 laps of the season-ending PASS South Super Late Model Series Mason Dixon Meltdown, passing polesitter Jared Irvan on a lap 81 restart and fending off a flurry of late-race charges from all-time series wins leader Preston Peltier en route to his first late model victory of the season.
Though the 18-year-old Floridian left just enough of a gap on the inside for Peltier to give a shot to his left-rear quarter panel in turn four on the final lap, Sargeant kept the wheel straight and drove home to the $5,000 victory by just .093 of a second.
Saturday’s win was Sargeant’s first in PASS South competition and came in his debut at the unique, triangle-shaped Concord half-mile.
“Man, I gotta say thanks to everyone at Bond Suss Racing for bringing me a great piece today and sticking by me all season long,” he said in victory lane. “This car was super dialed in today. We’ve been so close so many times this year and to be able to come out to a big race like the North-South Shootout and score the win is really special.”
“It was a really tough race … with this weekend being my first time here (at Concord) and not knowing what to expect, but I feel like we did a really good job with managing the car in the race and doing what we came here to do. Holding off Preston in those last 20 laps was tough, but he raced me super clean and I respect that a lot.”
“All in all, this is just a cool win and a cool place to get the first win for all the guys on this team.”
After Jared Irvan set quick time for the fourth time in his PASS South career during Friday’s qualifying session, Clay Rogers redrew the pole position in the top 10 grid shuffle on Saturday morning, while Sargeant started alongside Rogers in second.
Rogers charged to the lead in turn one and led the first four laps, but Irvan made a quick inside pass to take the lead through the dogleg on lap five, opening up a full second’s advantage over Sargeant by the conclusion of the 10th round as the frontrunners settled in to pace their tire wear.
The race’s opening caution flag came out just past the one-quarter mark, with a spinning Terry Horak coming to a stop at the top of turn four and slowing the pace on lap 34.
A second quick slowdown would follow on lap 37 after Horak made contact with J.P. Josiasse, with both cars spinning to a stop in turn four as a result, but once the race resumed after that it settled into another solid green-flag stint.
The restart saw Irvan jump out to a 10-car length lead again over Sargeant, with Rogers, Matt Craig and Christian Eckes trailing in third through fifth.
The day’s third caution flew on lap 51, when Wes Burton looped his No. 13 entry on the frontstretch, but the next restart saw a change for second as Rogers charged back past Sargeant on the inside and set his sights on Irvan for the top spot.
At halfway, the order was Irvan, Rogers, Sargeant, Eckes and Peltier, but that order changed immediately and quickly on lap 64 as Sargeant reclaimed second from Rogers and brought Eckes with him into third through the dogleg.