DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 26, 2010) – Tim Sargent capped an emotional season with his first NASCAR championship.
The 36-year-old driver from South Beloit, Ill., became just the fifth different driver in 24 years to win the Stanley Steamer Late Model Division championship at Rockford (Ill.) Speedway, and captured the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Illinois championship. All during a season in which his father, Randy, a former driver himself and Tim’s car owner, was diagnosed with cancer.
“I just wanted to quit racing immediately, but dad said it was important for us to go for the championship. And he kept telling us it was important,” Sargent said.
“Then we had some expensive wrecks three weeks in a row, and I had just about enough,” Sargent said. “Our sponsors stepped in and helped us get the car right again, and we saw it through. I’m glad we made it and we have no regrets.”
Sargent finished with five wins, 15 top fives and 16 top 10s in 18 starts.
He broke a string of repeat Late Model division champions dating back 19 years at Rockford.
Sargent is proud to place his name on Rockford’s Late Model track champions list that includes renowned seven-time champions John Knaus, Ricky Bilderback and Bob Wilberg, and six-time champion Joe Shear, among many others.
Winning races on Rockford’s tight high-banked .298-mile oval is a tall order and winning championships can be even tougher. A small number of drivers seem to hit the right combination of ability, race car and maybe a little nod from Lady Luck that make the track’s championship list unusually streaky.
“Everyone pays their dues at Rockford and we paid some this year,” Sargent said. “We went with a mindset to win. I knew we had a good car. I just had to teach myself to be patient, which is hard to do starting midway in a 20 car, 30-lap feature. Rockford has good competition – some of the hardest competition anywhere. Being patient was the key. We slowed down just a little and ended up going faster.”
Sargent won the title by 11 points over Jon Reynolds Jr.
Although Sargent has been around Rockford his whole life, racing there on a full-time basis has been the exception rather than the rule. He was the Late Model division rookie of the year in 2006.
The closest he came to winning a Rockford title prior was in 2004 when he finished second in the Sportsman division points. He started racing in his teens at a dirt track in Freeport, Ill.
Sargent’s racing plans for 2010 were not complete until mid-March when local sponsorship from Fox 39 and www.karkorner.net brought with it a full-season effort at Rockford. Other sponsors on the Chevy Impala include James Collision Center, QuarterMaster, Race Car Help, Competition Specialists Race Engines, Do It Right Tool & Die, and Blackhawk Motorsports.
Sargent did not have a typical car in competition at Rockford. In a region where Lefthander chassis are the dominant brand, Sargent selected a Race Car Help (RCH) Steve Strasburg-built Hamke chassis and a Competition Specialists Race Engine.
“We’ve gone a little bit off the beaten path, but we’re going to do what we need to do to be competitive. We’ve done a lot of research with these guys,” Sargent said.
Crew chiefs for the team include Brian James and Brian Hartfield. Bobby Davis is the engine owner. Tim Noble, the driver’s brother James Sargent, and John Cromwell round out the team.
“I don’t think the sense of accomplishment has sunken in yet,” Sargent said. “On championship night at the track, we were just glad it was over. I think when the whole team gets to Charlotte for the awards banquet, that’s when we’ll celebrate.”
Sargent will be honored Friday, Dec. 10 at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet at the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center’s Crown Ballroom in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion, U.S. state and Canadian provincial champions, track champions, rookies of the year, and special award winners will be recognized.
The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is the grassroots, foundation of NASCAR and consists of more than 50 short tracks across North America. Since its inception, NASCAR Home Tracks have served as a springboard in the careers of many NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers. Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, and Jamie McMurray are among the drivers who began their careers racing in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
For more information, contact: Jason Christley, NASCAR Public Relations, (386) 310-6094 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was posted to the website on October 30th, 2010
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