Column By: TREVOR GAVIN / RPW – CONCORD, NC – The second-generation driver from Averill Park, NY has found a new home on the tracks of Ohio
The Sanchez name is a familiar one among race fans in the Empire State. Danny Sanchez drove in both the Pro Stock and Sportsman divisions at Lebanon Valley speedway for several years before handing the steering wheel over to his son Daniel. Daniel has since moved to the UMP Modified division but the change is divisions was a results of Daniel moving to Ohio for college.
Daniel is piloting the number 463 in this weekend’s Short Track Championships at The Dirt Track at Charlotte and the team took some time to tell their story of how they went from racing in New York to their current operation of racing through Ohio and in to the Midwest.
It all started when Danny Sanchez won his last feature at Lebanon Valley Speedway and the usual thrill of victory was no there anymore.
“I remember I crossed the line to win and thinking to myself, I am just chewing gum right now” he said. That casual reaction to winning at one of the most challenging tracks around is what led his decision to maybe turn the car over to his son.
“When he ran his first four-cylinder race and drove up through the field, I had that excitement, that emotion again” the elder Sanchez added.
From the four cylinder it was on to Pro Stocks, a class Danny had a lot of experience with. The family was racing Lebanon Valley until Daniel graduated from high school in 2015. At that time Daniel was accepted to the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) in Lima. He was admitted to the High Performance Program in the College of Applied Technologies.
Not just an ace pilot on the track, Daniel was also a stand out in the class room. In addition to being a student, he was also the President of the UNOH Chapter of the American Marketing Association that worked with business in the local community. He graduated this spring with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing in addition to his Associate’s Degree in the College of Applied Technologies. It was a part of the school’s 2+2 specialized studies program.
UNOH has a commitment to the motorsports world and the school offers a racing team. Where most universities would feature football or basketball, UNOH allows students to join their racing team that is funded by the school.
“You needed to have a certain GPA to apply so I went to try outs, ran well and was accepted to the team” he told Race Pro Weekly. “My crew chief on that team, Mark McCormick, is still my crew chief now on the modified” he continued.
Another member of the crew is a name some race fans may find familiar too. Jordan Miller is also from New York and races in the Sportsman division at Lebanon Valley and Fonda. He is also a part of the current Sanchez racing team serving as the team’s tire specialist.
Making the UNOH racing team got Daniel in to the Ohio racing scene. The family eventually branched out and got their own Super Stock cars running their current #463. The would often run two cars a night with Jordan also behind the wheel of one. Daniel’s father, committed to sharing the racing experience with his son would driver every weekend from Averill Park, New York to Lima, Ohio.
“Dad would leave New York at about four am on Friday and get to the shop around 2 pm. We would race Saturday nights, work on the car a little Sunday morning before he would drive home” Daniel said.
“The truck towing this trailer has over 416,000 miles on it from all those trips over the years” a proud Danny added.
The team took home the 2018 Limaland Thunderstocks Championship and moved up to the UMP division for 2019 and continued in to the class in 2020. The Short Track Championships are the teams last run for the year and are already looking ahead to heading to Volusia to start 2021.
Friday night was qualifying night at The Dirt Track at Charlotte for all division. Sanchez started 5th in Heat #1 and quickly jumped to fourth at the start before the cars rumbled on to the backstretch. When the leader pulled to the infield, he moved up to third. The last few laps, he held off the 537 of Jesse Rockett in a great battle with Sanchez on the highline and Rockett trying to power by of the bottom. At the checkers Sanchez held on for third and locked in to the feature. 35 cars are entered for the UMP class this weekend with notable names like Kyle Strickler and David Stremme also competing.
The strong showing in the heat race plus running so many DIRTcar events over the season earned Daniel an invitation to the UMP All-Star Invitational Feature that was originally scheduled for Friday night but moved to end of the day Saturday when the opening night program hit the 11pm curfew for the track. He will start 15th of 20 cars in that 20 laps feature.
Looking to 2021, Daniel is in the process of moving to Freeport, Illinois where he has accepted a job with Out-Pace Racing Products as a Marketing Specialist. The team plants to continue with their UMP modified which is sponsored all by businesses with ties to capital district area.
When Daniel’s father, Danny, was asked if he was now going to have to drive to Illinois every week next year, Danny laughed and said, “No way, he is going to fly me to Chicago and come pick me up”.