Talking Racing with Dalton Sargeantby Kyle Pokrefky May 19, 2015 0 comments
It’s been an interesting path to NASCAR for 17-year-old Dalton Sargeant.
One of the newest members of the NASCAR Next program recently started racing stock cars after a three-year foray into the open wheel formula ranks of Europe.
With his passion for racing calling him back to the United States, the Boca Raton, Fla. native has since jumped to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East where he currently races as a member of the star-studded HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks group.
At Iowa Speedway on Saturday, The Fourth Turn had a chance to have an exclusive interview with Sargeant to discuss his unique racing background and what his future plans are in NASCAR.
Can you remember what was the moment in your life where you first got into racing?
I got a go kart for Christmas when I was seven years old and from there went out to the local go kart track in West Palm Beach and got in a go kart for my first time. It was my brother when I started – trying to race against him the first time on the track. Ever since then I’ve loved it and racing has just been in my blood.
Who were your racing heroes growing up?
Growing up, I had several different racing heroes. On the NASCAR side of things, I looked up to Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon while on the Formula 1 side I was looking up to Michael Schumacher and Kimi Räikkönen.
What was your career path getting into racing?
I actually originally started off in racing on more of a formula-based career path. I went from go karts and actually moved over to Europe and ran go karts in world championships in Europe. I lived there for three years. I moved up to formula cars and I was running and testing some Formula Renault 2.0s. I enjoyed it but I just felt like it wasn’t my passion so I decided to move back to the United States and began to run stock cars and late model stocks last year. From there, it’s just kind of taken off [as] I’m now running the K&N Pro Series.
Obviously, they’re completely different styles of race car, but were you able to take anything from running open wheel cars to running late models?
[Some] of the major things that I kind of noticed that I was able to take over was throttle control, management of tires and as well as being really smooth on the wheel. I feel like that helps out a lot on these cars.
I know in Europe, Formula 1 gets a lot of flak for it being a very political sport, then again, NASCAR is a bit of a political sport itself. Are the two similar at all?
It’s similar, but I think that NASCAR – right now Formula 1 at the moment is kind of struggling a little bit for money where a lot of the drivers in the field have to bring money to the sport as well as some of the drivers in the back maybe aren’t the best suited for the cars and maybe they could have a bit better of a competition field. Right now, it seems like they may be losing cars and whatnot.
It’s a little bit different than over here where if you’re a good driver and you perform well in some of the lower series, you’ll get a chance to run in the Sprint Cup Series – like what Erik Jones just did and Chase Elliott. They’ve shown that they can run and that they’re fast and that really gives them an opportunity.
What’s it like currently being a driver in the HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks group?
So far, everything’s worked really well. I seem to fit in pretty well here with my teammates and everyone gets along really well. It’s been a smooth transition really over from late model stocks to this being my first year racing with Harry Scott Motorsports. This is their first year really as a team. They ran last year when it was Turner Scott Motorsports and [then] they split, but everything’s been running perfectly smooth. Great equipment, great cars, and we’ll have to see how the rest of the season goes.
You’re currently full-time in the K&N East Pro Series, what does your K&N West schedule look like?
It’s a partial schedule. I plan on running Sonoma and Phoenix at the end of the year.
Are you planning on doing any big late model races this year like the All-American 400 or the Winchester 400?
I plan on running the Winchester 400 again and the Snowball Derby the second time this year. Hopefully, I’ll be able to run the Myrtle Beach late model stock race toward the end of the year. It always seems to be a fun event – I couldn’t run it last year but I’m looking forward to it this year. Also, the 251 in Berlin, which will be a pretty cool race as well.
Are there any Camping World Truck Series starts being lined up for you?
We’re hoping to. Hopefully we’ll be able to get a few in later this year.
Picturing yourself five years from now, where do you see yourself in racing?
Five years from now I’d like to be in the Sprint Cup Series – hopefully competing for championships and going for the Chase really. That’s kind of the main goal. Hopefully I can move into the Truck Series next year and maybe stay there for a year or two or move up to XFINITY following that year and really try to learn over the next three or four years and take that talent on to the Sprint Cup Series.
Are you currently signed to any development deal with anybody?
Nothing yet, still open for options.
Just recently, you were announced as a member of this year’s NASCAR Next group. What’s that been like?
So far everything’s been great. I’ve had a blast pretty much learning with the NASCAR Next group. They really teach you a lot – not only on the track but also off the track media-wise and they prepare you better for when you move up into the next series. You get to learn a lot and you get to meet a lot of great people and the program really opens up some doors and bring some more opportunities to young drivers like myself. Hopefully being able to meet team owners as well as get to go behind the scenes really for the opening of the Chase, you get to see what it’s like to be a Sprint Cup driver and all that they have to take on and handle. I think it’s going to be a great learning experience for myself.
Feature Image Photo credit: Getty Images for NASCAR