AUTHOR: Don Radebaugh
TOLEDO, Ohio (May 21, 2017) — It took him most of the afternoon to get there, but once Harrison Burton cleared Dalton Sargeant for the lead with eight laps to go, the Huntersville, North Carolina driver set sail for victory lane, winning the 76th running of the Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care Sunday afternoon at Toledo Speedway.
Burton, in the No. 28 Dex Imaging Toyota, worked hard for the victory, coming from the back to the front just in time to track down the leader in the closing laps.
“This No. 28 Dex Imaging Camry was on point today…probably the best race car I’ve ever driven,” said Burton. “I really appreciate all my guys on this MDM team for not giving up on me. Dalton’s a great driver…the difference between us and him was our cars. We struggled on short runs, but on long runs, we just mowed him down.”
It had to have been a heartbreaker for Sargeant, who dominated the race, leading 161 of 200 laps, only to give it up when it mattered most. After a battle with Chad Finley in the final laps, the Boca Raton, Florida driver held on for second.
“Overall, we had a really strong Big Tine Ford…it got pretty intense over those last few laps, but it was a solid points day for us,” said Sargeant. “We just got too tight toward the end of that last run and Harrison was able to get around us. It is what it is and we’ll take it to the next one.”
Burton buried himself deep in the order when he stalled his car on pit road during his first pit stop. From there, he raced his way forward over several cautions that continually mixed the running order.
“It took us a while to get there…the cautions didn’t help us because we weren’t as good on the short runs. We were going 110% over the last few laps…that’s what it takes to win these races. I felt like the General Tires stayed with us longer than anyone else today. I’m just blessed to be able to race for MDM…I had a lot of fun out there. I hope we can run some more ARCA races.”
Finley, who won at Nashville earlier this year, finished third in the No. 51 Auto Value-Air Lift Chevrolet.
“We had a solid day,” said Finley. “We had a car capable of winning the race but when the sun came out, we got too tight at the end. We don’t do this deal with a lot of money so for us to run first and third to start the year off…we’re pretty good with that.”
Zane Smith, in the No. 55 Icon Vehicle Dynamics-Lapaz Toyota, also came from the back to the front, finishing fourth.
“We’re happy with the way it ended…bummed on how we started,” said Smith. “I slid in some water on pit road and stalled the car and lost a lot positions. Our car was good…we just need to be a little better. We got a push when the sun came out.”
Riley Herbst, in the No. 18 NOS Energy Drink-UFC Gym Toyota, finished a career-best fifth.
Sargeant got the jump at the start from the pole position and led the first 49 laps before Christian Eckes raced inside of Sargeant to lead the 50th lap. Eckes’s lead was short-lived after Sargeant took it right back. After Sargeant and Eckes traded back and forth once more, Sargeant gave up the lead just twice more, briefly, to Finley and Austin Nemire. Once Sargeant regained the lead on lap 129, he held on until lap 192 before Burton took control for good.
There were nine cautions that slowed the pace for 70 laps for a variety of spins and wall bangers, the most serious for Shane Lee, who landed hard in the foam barriers in turn three. Lee was okay, but his car sustained heavy front-end damage. The Newton, North Carolina driver, who was second in championship points before the race, slid back in the standings after the early out on lap 130.
Austin Theriault, Gus Dean, Eckes, Vinnie Miller and Tyler Roahrig completed the top-10 finishers, respectively. Natalie Decker, in her career-first ARCA Racing Series start, finished 11th, the last car on the lead lap.
The next event for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is the Shore Lunch 250 at Elko Speedway Saturday, June 3, live on MAVTV.
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