BROOKLYN, Mich. – Sometimes the fastest car doesn’t win the race and on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway, Nick Sanchez emphatically proved that point.
The 21-year-old held off challenges from Corey Heim and Daniel Dye in the final laps of the Henry Ford Health 200 to earn his third ARCA Menards Series victory of the season for Rev Racing.
“My team brought me a really fast car, but we were not the fastest one,” Sanchez said. “We had to capitalize on restarts like we always do and we did that and just played defense and took the air away from everyone.”
Heim had started from the pole and dominated the first 30 laps of the event before giving up the lead following an unscheduled second pit stop during the first of two race breaks.
Sanchez was able to take the lead during the ensuing restart and held it until Lap 63, when Heim was able to retake the lead after starting from the tail of the field.
The second race break came at Lap 70 and Sanchez took advantage of the restart that followed, snatching the lead away from Heim. This time his stay at the front was brief as Heim quickly regained the lead and started to put distance between himself and the rest of the field.
However, a caution on Lap 86 for Scott Melton’s damaged Toyota gave Sanchez another shot at the lead.
When the race resumed Sanchez took his shot. Using a push from Dye, Sanchez was able to reclaim the lead through Turns 1 and 2.
From there it was a chess match for Sanchez, who bobbed and weaved down the straightaways as he did his best to block runs from Dye and Heim.
Heim, who bounced off the outside wall shortly after the restart and faded to fifth, was able to get around Dye to take second with two laps left. He tried to get alongside Sanchez going into Turn 1 on the final lap, but Sanchez blocked that move and beat Heim to the finish line by 0.496 seconds.
“Days like this when you know you have to go get it, you know you have to go get it on a restart, those are the best days,” Sanchez said. “We did not have the speed to win that race. We took it away from the 20 (Heim), the 43 (Dye) and the 18 (Sammy Smith). That is the best feeling.”
Heim briefly gave up second to Dye on the final lap but was able to inch ahead to reclaim the position at the checkered flag.
“That restart, I just didn’t have a pusher there, which sucked for sure but you can’t really count on that in racing,” Heim said. “Drove it really hard and I had a massive run off of (Turn) 2. If I could just stick it off of 2 and hold that run off of 2…I just laid it in the fence a little bit. That’s my fault.
“Wish that caution didn’t come out, but that’s part of it.”
Dye finished third, with Sammy Smith and Gus Dean completing the top-five.
Rajah Caruth, Bret Holmes, Cody Coughlin, Greg Van Alst and Morgan Baird were sixth through 10th, respectively.
The ARCA Menards Series season continues on Aug. 19 with the General Tire Delivers 100 at New York’s Watkins Glen International. The event will air live on FS1 at 6 p.m. ET.