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ARCA Championship is Stepping Stone for Nick Sanchez

(Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

TOLEDO, Ohio — When Nick Sanchez went to Toledo Speedway for the ARCA Menards Series finale, he had one goal in mind — finish ahead of Daniel Dye. If he did that, he’d become the 2022 ARCA champion.

With just a two-point buffer, there wasn’t any margin for error. Dye had more speed on short tracks and had chipped away on his deficit throughout the late summer stretch.

Sanchez suffered engine issues during practice at Toledo, and while his team diagnosed it, he took some laps in Rev Racing teammate Rajah Caruth’s car.

For the most part, Sanchez had a fairly uneventful race and finished fifth. On the other hand, Dye suffered a mechanical failure on the right front assembly and finished 18th. Sanchez finished nine points above Dye to become the 2022 champion.

“It’s pretty cool being introduced as that,” Sanchez said. “There’s a lot of races I think we could have won… but overall, I think it was a really solid year for my team.”

Sanchez, who is of Cuban descent, joined Rev Racing in 2017 after he was accepted into NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. His father was born in Cuba and lived there for eight years before immigrating to the United States in 1979.

Sanchez lived his whole life in the United States, growing up in Miami. He still embraced his Cuban heritage as he began racing at 12 years old, when he raced go-karts.

“Cuban heritage is huge for me. It’s what I grew up in. Living in Miami for 16 years, it’s what I know,” Sanchez said. “The culture down there is so strong. I am representing the Latin-American community, the Cuban-American community and Miami.”

(Photo: Sam Draiss | The Podium Finish)

After spending two seasons driving Rev late models, Sanchez debuted in the K&N Pro Series East in 2019 before running the full ARCA Menards Series East schedule in 2020 after the series merger.

In 2021, he made all but two starts in the ARCA main series, missing Springfield and DuQuoin — two dirt tracks. Sanchez continued to improve throughout the season, but he still pursued his first victory.

At Kansas Speedway in the series finale, Sanchez flexed his muscles and beat Ty Gibbs on a late restart to win his first race. Gibbs won the championship, but it gave Sanchez something to build on going into 2022.

Sanchez went into an early points hole this season after a blown tire relegated him to 20th at Daytona and he “missed it” at Phoenix, finishing seventh. But, he went on to win the next two races at Talladega and Kansas to get back into the championship hunt.

Sanchez quickly hit his stride and passed Caruth and Dye to take the lead in points. He won at Michigan in August, and after finishing second at Watkins Glen two weeks later, Sanchez had an 11-point lead with seven races remaining.

But, Sanchez had to battle adversity down the stretch. Dye used his short track speed to his advantage to narrow the points gap with six of the final seven races on tracks a mile or shorter. Dye had the speed to beat Sanchez at Toldeo, but the mechanical failure ended his chances.

(Photo: Kevin Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

“We just had to maximize our day and eliminate mistakes,” Sanchez said. “We had to capitalize on tracks that we knew we were going to be strong at — Michigan, Pocono, Kansas. If it wasn’t for our strong runs and wins at tracks like that, we wouldn’t be at that position.

“Berlin, Elko… those tracks were pretty rough on us. But, we got through them… Short tracks, [others] got better as the year went on, and we kind of plateaued.”

At least for now, this will probably be it for Sanchez in ARCA. He said his plans are set for next season, and it’s “leaning towards” the Truck Series.

Meanwhile, Sanchez will drive for Big Machine Racing at Las Vegas and Homestead-Miami in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Sanchez finished 29th in his debut with the team at Bristol, six laps down. But at Texas last month, he ran top 10 nearly all day before coming home 11th.

“The first two races I had with them was a huge learning experience,” he said. “Going from Texas to Las Vegas and Homestead, two mile-and-a-half tracks, I should have a lot to build off of and a lot to improve on.

‘The level of competition in Xfinity is a lot greater than ARCA… The Xfinity Series has taught me patience — you can’t get it all in the first five or 1o laps.”

Sanchez will ride the momentum of his ARCA championship through the rest of his Xfinity schedule and to wherever he lands next. But one thing looks certain — Sanchez has a bright future in NASCAR.


Nathan Solomon serves as the managing editor of The Podium Finish. He has been part of the team since 2021 and is accredited by the National Motorsports Press Association. Solomon is a senior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. Contact him at

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