Better lucky than good, the saying goes.
Nick Sanchez was both in Saturday’s ARCA Menards Series Dutch Boy 150 at Kansas Speedway.
The luck came on lap 58, when Sanchez was the benefactor of an inexplicable wreck between Drew Dollar and race leader Corey Heim on the first lap after a competition caution.
Sanchez was good from that moment on — good enough to hold off teammate Rajah Carruth for his second consecutive ARCA Series win, as well as his second consecutive win at Kansas Speedway.
Sanchez thought he might’ve had enough to run down Heim and Dollar over the last 40 laps. He definitely had enough to pull away from the remainder of the field.
“I think (Dollar) was just pushing a little too hard there at the bottom and obviously side force here is everything,” Sanchez said. “(Heim) took it off, and they both hit the wall. I saw it coming. (Dollar) started off pretty free, and I was able to stay at the bottom and capitalize on his mistakes.”
Sanchez had never raced on a 1.5-mile layout until his start at Kansas Speedway last fall. Now he’ll be the favorite when the ARCA Series returns in September.
“It’s all momentum, and your car has to let you keep up momentum as much as possible,” he said.
Sanchez also has a busy summer ahead of him, as he’ll be competing in a limited number of Xfinity Series races in the coming months. He’s planning to race in both the ARCA and Xfinity races here this fall.
Carruth, Sanchez’s teammate, led the series points standings entering Saturday’s race, the first Black driver to do so. Carruth finished a career-best second to Sanchez on Saturday, his third straight top-10 finish in this, his rookie season.
“We’ve worked really hard the last couple weeks to bring two fast race cars,” Carruth said. “It sucks to finish second, but we can’t do much more when we’re all wide open on the top there.
“I felt like I was the best car in the long run, but once we got to the top, it was really hard to pass. I kept it off the wall. I got close to it, which was steps I wanted to look at. Overall, a pretty decent day.”
Heim, who won the ARCA season opener at Daytona, seemed destined to pick up his second checkered flag on Saturday. He led 55 laps before Dollar lost control and put him into the wall coming off turn 4, ending his day.
Heim was somewhat diplomatic about having his race and chance at victory cut short by Dollar, whom he considers a friend.
“I gave him plenty of room, I thought. I race Drew with a lot of respect,” Heim said. “It just looks like he lost it, and it’s part of it. I don’t think he did it on purpose. He was just going for the win, and it is what it is.”
Billy Venturini, owner of Heim’s number 43 car and Dollar’s former employer, didn’t mince words.
“Drew wrecks all your (crap) when he’s racing for you, and he wrecks it all when he’s racing against you,” Venturini said. “Just a typical, boneheaded move by Drew. He’s killed a couple of my cars here. He’s a great kid, but he does not need to be a racecar driver. He’s got a lot of other things he can probably do that he’d be good at.”
Rookie driver Daniel Dye rounded out the podium, finishing third. According to the Daytona Beach News Journal, Dye, a high school senior, was arrested on April 26 after allegedly punching another student in the groin during class, which resulted in a serious injury. Dye’s battery charges were reduced to a misdemeanor.
ARCA, which suspended Dye after his arrest, reinstated him on Friday, issuing a brief statement: “Daniel Dye’s indefinite suspension has been lifted. He has been approved to return to all ARCA racing activities effective Friday, May 13, 2022.”