Charlotte, N.C. (March 3, 2015) - Dalton Sargeant and the No. 5s GALT, Wauters Motorsports team headed west to Bakersfield, California for the inaugural Winter Showdown from Kern County Raceway and finished in the second position. The 16-year-old shocked the short track racing community once again by competing like a veteran, but ultimately finishing a mere five-car lengths short of the eventual winner, veteran Bubba Pollard in the 250-lap event. The second-place finish was Sargeant’s third runner up finishing position in the past four events.
On track activity began on Monday, February 23 with open practice as Sargeant attempted to get used to the fast one-half mile, high banked speedway. The driver, as well as the experienced crew of Wauters Motorsports had never seen the brand new facility located in Bakersfield, California before the track opened for practice. The No. 5s team showed speed in the opening days of practice and continued to work on their machine from Monday, all the way up until the last full day of practice on Thursday. Sargeant was routinely in the top three in speeds throughout practice and headed into qualifications on Friday night with confidence. That confidence paid off as Sargeant and the No. 5s GALT, Wauters Motorsports team qualified in the third position, and effectively locked themselves in to the third starting position for Saturday’s main event. A qualifying heat race was also held Friday night to determine the rest of the field’s starting position with Sargeant starting from the pole position. The team used this 50-lap heat race as a test session for Saturday’s 250-lap main event, as Sargeant led all 50 laps en route to the victory. Saturday saw the Wauters Motorsports team continue to improve as they paced final practice, a mere two hours before the main event, but mother nature had other plans as rain postponed the inaugural Winter Showdown until Sunday.
The green flag flew Sunday afternoon on the 36-car field as Sargeant started from the third position, as the young driver made a veteran move and decided to conserve his equipment until the mandatory halfway break coming on lap 125. The first half of the Winter Showdown was interrupted six times for incidents farther back in the field as the No. 5s GALT machine battled with the top three competitors. Sargeant was able to learn quite a bit in the first half as he was able to practice restarts six times, realizing the top line had a distinct advantage over the lower line, something he would utilize to his advantage later on. The teams were able to take four tires and fuel at the halfway break and veteran crew chief Richie Wauters made the call to go with no adjustments, as the car was just a little tight but got better as the fuel and tires wore off. The green flag came back out on lap 125 with Sargeant restarting in the fourth position and the No. 5s immediately rocketed to the second position on lap 128 utilizing the outside line. Multiple caution periods later Sargeant found himself again in the fourth position on lap 171 and he utilized the outside groove on the ensuing restart to take over the second position, one that he wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way. Through multiple restarts and even one with 4 laps remaining, Sargeant wasn’t able to challenge veteran short-track driver Bubba Pollard, as the No. 5s GALT machine held off a late race charge by defending SRL champion and 2013 NASCAR K&N West champion Derek Thorn.
“As disappointing as it is to finish second once again in such a big late model event as the Winter Showdown, I actually had a lot of fun racing two of the very best drivers in the country. Bubba Pollard and Derek Thorn are class acts, we all raced each other hard for 250 laps and not once did any of us make any contact, and that’s all you can ask for when racing for $25,000. The car was really good all weekend long, Richie Wauters tuned on it all weekend and we only had to make minor adjustments, but we just never had anything for Bubba Pollard, they were always in their own league all week. To be honest, we came all the way from the east coast to win this race, and it hurts a little coming up as close as we did. It seems like we’re always finishing in second place, we finished second in the Snowball Derby, and second in my first NASCAR K&N East race a few weeks ago at New Smyrna Speedway, so at least we’re on the right path. We will regroup, and get ready for the next race and hopefully end up in victory lane soon.”
The next event for Dalton Sargeant will take place on Saturday, March 7 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, South Carolina apart of their NASCAR Whelen All-American Series opening weekend. Sargeant will also compete the following day on Sunday, March 8 at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, North Carolina which is also apart of their NASCAR Whelen All-American Series opening weekend. In both events, Sargeant will be competing in the No. 51 GALT Lee Pulliam Performance machine.