TALLADEGA, Ala. — When Nick Sanchez got shuffled out of the lead pack with 11 laps to go in Saturday’s General Tire 200, it appeared his shot at winning at Talladega Superspeedway was over.
Two laps later, Sanchez made a daring, three-wide move to take the race lead moments before a caution flag waved to end the race early, allowing him to claim his second ARCA Menards Series victory dating back to last year and first of the 2022 season.
The ARCA Menards Series race at Talladega ended nine laps early so Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race could start on time. Prior to a restart with 13 laps left, teams were informed that the next flag – checkered or caution – would end the race.
“They told me the last caution was going to end it, so I was driving pretty aggressive just trying to get to the front before someone wrecked,” Sanchez said.
Using a push from Corey Heim, Sanchez went from fourth to first on the ensuing restart. His time at the front was brief, as Heim quickly took the lead while Sanchez got shuffled back while trying to block the top and bottom lines while running third.
Sanchez kept his wits about him and got back in the draft, quickly getting to third in the outside line.
While that was happening, Daniel Dye was at the front of the field trying to pass race leader Heim. He first moved up to the top to block a run by Alabama native Bret Holmes before moving low to try and block Heim.
The move to block Heim came too late, and Dye spun off the nose of Heim’s No. 20 Venturini Motorsports Toyota.
That’s when Sanchez saw his opportunity. Sanchez moved low under Holmes and was able to go three-wide to pass Heim for the lead seconds before the caution was displayed for Dye’s spin, allowing Sanchez to secure the first superspeedway triumph for Rev Racing.
“It was kind of every man for himself right there,” Sanchez said. “Me and my Max Siegel No. 2 did great. Thank you Max Siegel, everyone from NASCAR Drive for Diversity and Team Chevy.”
Heim, the defending winner of the General Tire 200, was scored third behind Sanchez and Holmes and expressed displeasure with how the race ended.
“I think that’s just a joke,” Heim said. “My spotter told me the race was going to end under caution whenever the next flag was. That’s just a joke.”
Thad Moffitt, grandson of NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, made a late run through the field to finish fourth ahead of Gus Dean in fifth.
Rajah Caruth, Drew Dollar, Ryan Huff, Parker Chase and Max Gutierrez unofficially completed the top-10.
The only major incident of the day took place on Lap 49, when Toni Breidinger spun in the pack. The incident involved seven cars and led to a brief red flag period.
One of the drivers involved in the incident, Scott Melton, was extracted from his car and taken to a local medical center for further evaluation. Melton announced on social media Saturday night he would undergo a procedure to repair a broken leg.