By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
SPARTA, Ky. – For this week’s edition of Climbing the Ladder, Seth Eggert sat down with GMS Racing’s Dalton Sargeant. Sargeant is a 20-year-old that drives the No. 25 Performance Plus Motor Oil Chevrolet Silverado in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Sargeant is competing for both the Driver’s Championship as well as Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. He currently sits 11thin the Championship Standings, and second in the Rookie Standings.
Seth Eggert: How did you become interested in Motorsports?
Dalton Sargeant: “I grew up watching racing on TV, my Dad was always a big fan, but I never really initially thought I was going to get into racing. One year for Christmas, my brother and I got go-karts, and it all really spiraled out of control after that. From going to the local racetracks, to the state level, National level, it just kind of grew from a kid.”
SE: How did you convince your parents to let you race? Was it difficult?
DS: “It was definitely pretty tough to convince my Mom. My Dad was a little bit easier, he was the one that got us the go-karts originally and got us into racing. My Mom was just happy that it got me off of a dirt bike at least.”
SE: Where and when was your first race? What was the result?
DS: “My first race was at Homestead-Miami Speedway, there’s a go-kart track in the parking lot out there. I don’t (remember where I finished), I’m sure it was pretty close to last though.”
SE: Who would you consider your mentor?
DS: “That’s tough. There is a lot of different guys that have helped me out throughout my racing career. I’ve worked with a lot of great crew chiefs in the past, and a lot of great drivers as well. All have helped me out. I just try to listen to everybody and learn as much as I can.”
SE: What inspires you to compete?
DS: “Just going out there and trying to win. I think that’s what we’re all here to do, trying to accomplish every week. Just trying to be able to run good for my guys. They work so hard. That’s really important for us. I’m just trying to learn more each and every week, so we can be more prepared for the next steps.”
SE: Is there a specific track that you want to win at?
DS: “All of them.”
SE: How are you learning tracks that you haven’t visited yet?
DS:“It’s a bit of a tough thing to do. Sometimes I’ll jump on a simulator to see if that helps out at all. Otherwise, studying film, as well as talking to drivers like Johnny Sauter that have been there in the past, to see what kinds of tips or hints they have for me when we get there. At the same time, it’s always that first couple of laps on the track where you pick up the most.”
SE: Do you find it intimidating to have a former Truck Series Champion, like Johnny Sauter as a teammate?
DS: “No. I definitely wouldn’t say that it’s intimidating at all. It’s definitely a huge help to have him just to help with the set-ups of all of our GMS Racing Trucks, as well as being able to go to him and ask him questions and be able to learn from him.”
SE: You moved to Europe to compete in open wheel racing. How did you move from open wheel racing to stock car racing?
DS: “It was really tough. I pretty much had to throw everything out the window when I first came back from racing open wheel over in Europe and went stockcar racing, it was completely different. I thought that some things would be the same, but really, it was all different, so I needed a whole new set of skills. Luckily I picked up on it decently.”
SE: Are you disappointed that open wheel racing didn’t work out?
DS: “No. The main reason why I really came back was that I got tired of it. Tired of living over there. Stockcar racing is much more fun, at least you get a lot more side by side action, and some great battles in races compared to running open wheel where once you run the first couple laps, it gets really strung out.”
SE: Does your brother, Logan still race?
DS: “Yeah, he’s currently competing overseas. He’s racing in Formula Renault 2.0 this year. I think he’s third in the Championship right now. Ran in the British F4 Championship. He’s having a great year, already won a handful of races. Hopefully he’ll continue to climb up the ladder over there.”
SE: Your brother races in Europe. Do the two of you have a sibling rivalry to see who can earn better results?
DS: “Yeah, I don’t know it’s a rivalry really. We’ve actually raced against each other in the past and it was definitely a huge battle between the two of us. I could never let my little brother beat me. Now that we’re racing completely different series, different cars and everything, it’s tough to have a rivalry. But, we do try to see who can rack up the most wins by the end of the year between the two of us.”
SE: You’ve driven a little bit of everything, open wheel cars, sports cars, and stock cars. Is there one discipline that haven’t yet competed in that you would want to?
DS: “I’d say that the biggest thing that I’d like to try and race at some point would be some of the long endurance races. The 24 Hours or Daytona or the 12 Hours of Sebring, something like that. That would be something that I think would be really cool.”
SE: You lapped the entire field at Salem Speedway in an ARCA race last year. What does it mean to you to accomplish such a rare feat in auto racing?
DS: “It was pretty special, pretty cool. It’s something that definitely is not easy. We just had to work hard all day. We had a really fast racecar. Sometimes things just all fall together your way. That was really cool and helped out our season last year.”
SE: The No. 25 on your truck is a tribute to Tim Richmond. Can you describe the feeling of honoring such an iconic and legendary driver?
DS: “It’s something that’s really cool, I just look up to him a lot. Not only his on-track performance, which was absolutely incredible, he was a great driver on the racetrack, but also his personality off the track, always trying to have as much fun as he could. He was very different than the guys you saw competing at the time. I just find him really interesting and try to honor him as much as possible.”
SE: What does the future hold for you, where will you be one year from now?
DS: “I honestly have no idea. I don’t know where we’ll be in a couple months, let alone a year. It’s hard to tell, time, everything always seems to work out. Time will tell.”