Nick Sanchez wrapped up the 2022 ARCA Menards Series title at Toledo Speedway on Oct. 8, 2022. (Luke Hales/ARCA Racing)

For Nick Sanchez, ARCA championship hopefully the first step in a long and successful career

TOLEDO, Ohio — For more than a decade, Max Siegel and Rev Racing have been instrumental in building NASCAR’s future.

That dedication was on full display at Toledo Speedway Saturday afternoon as Nick Sanchez secured the 2022 ARCA Menards Series championship, Rev Racing’s first title since the 2012 ARCA Menards Series East championship, which was won by reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson.

To even be in the same sentence as Larson when it comes to winning championships for Rev Racing is something Nick knows would not be possible without the meticulous work Siegel puts in with every driver that comes through the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program.

“Hopefully my career goes like [Larson’s has gone],” Nick said. “It’s cool to be alongside him, especially since I see his championship banner in the shop every day. Mine will be right next to his now, but this is huge for Max Siegel because he’s helped so many drivers including myself.”

RACING REFERENCE: Career stats for Nick Sanchez

A Cuban-American, Nick’s journey with Siegel and Rev Racing dates to 2017 when he competed in his first Legends Car race for the organization.

Consistent success in Legends Cars and Late Model Stock races along the East Coast opened the door for Nick to join Rev Racing’s ARCA Menards Series East program in 2020, which would evolve into an expanded 2021 schedule that saw Sanchez tackle most of the races in the ARCA Menards Series.

Following a breakthrough victory in the 2021 finale at Kansas Speedway, Nick built off that momentum this year to put together an efficient championship campaign that saw him record three more wins, nine top fives and an average finish of 6.3.

Along with his ARCA title, Nick has also been able to showcase his talent in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. After making his first two Xfinity starts with B.J. McLeod Motorsports, Nick is currently in the middle of a four-race stint with Big Machine Racing to close out 2022.

Nick said the part-time Xfinity schedule circles back to Siegel’s influence and how he has made him feel more comfortable interacting with other prominent figures in NASCAR.

“I went from not knowing how to buckle my seat belts to [an ARCA title],” Nick said. “Everything I know about this sport is because of Rev Racing. They’ve continued to help me knock on doors and get opportunities to go into the higher levels. I have to give all my thanks to Rev.”

Nick Sanchez. (Luke Hales/ARCA Racing)

His father, Rene Sanchez, also expressed his gratitude to Siegel and Rev Racing for their assistance towards unlocking the confidence he knew his son possessed.

A lot has changed for the Sanchez family since Nick first started competing for Rev Racing, but Rene said that two prevailing constants have been his son’s humble nature and his commitment towards improving every aspect of his driving style.

Rene admitted that Saturday’s championship race at Toledo was a culmination of Nick’s best qualities both on and off the track.

“It’s been a crazy season,” Rene said. “I told Nick that he had to go for this one even though it was going to be tough, but he got it done. Everyone on this team works so hard despite a couple of stumbles here and there. Those guys stand by Nick, and he stands by them. It all paid off.”

Toledo proved to be a perfect encapsulation of the whirlwind year Rene saw Nick and Rev Racing go through together.

Despite his three wins, a handful of inconsistent runs left Nick with a two-point advantage on Daniel Dye entering the final race. That lead immediately fell into jeopardy during practice when Rev Racing noticed an issue with Nick’s engine, forcing them to change it.

Nick’s confidence was unfazed. With a new engine in the car, Nick maintained solid track position throughout the Shore Lunch 200 while Dye’s title hopes were ended by a broken ball joint

“Luckily that [engine issue] happened in practice as it should have,” Nick said. “When [Daniel] was running second at the beginning, I was hoping he would fall off. If I had to race him at the end, we could have still gotten it because our car had a lot of speed. At the end, it was unfortunate for Daniel, but it was easy for us.”

A dejected Dye was left to wonder what could have been if the mechanical issue had not occurred, but he praised Nick for putting together such a great year and for racing him clean through all 20 races on the ARCA calendar.

“It was really cool being able to race both [Nick] and Rajah [Caruth],” Dye said. “They’re two good buddies of mine and we raced each other clean all year. There’s nothing bad between any of us, so congrats to those guys. They earned it just as much as we did to be in this position.”

RELATED: Sanchez carries Cuban-American heritage with pride

Nick believes battling Dye, Caruth and other drivers like Corey Heim and Sammy Smith all year long taught him many valuable lessons when it comes to composure and patience, which he plans to take with him as he continues to move through the developmental ladder.

Rene envisions a bright future for Nick and is ready to see how he responds to all the challenges up ahead this year and in 2023.

“Nick wants to go to Cup,” Rene said. “He’s got to work on that and there’s still a long way for him to go. Hopefully he takes another major step forward next year and just go from there. We’ll take everything how it comes.”

With a bright future ahead, Nick Sanchez is looking forward to the challenges in front of him ahead of 2023. (Allison Farrand/ARCA Racing)

Joining drivers like Frank Kimmel, Iggy Katona, Benny Parsons, Bill Venturini, Ty Gibbs and others as an ARCA champion is an honor that never crossed Nick’s mind as he endured growing pains in Legends and Late Model Stocks

Success has been a more gradual process for Nick compared to some of his counterparts, but he has enjoyed every step of the journey and is confident that many more accomplishments are in front of him after clinching the ARCA title Saturday.

“I wasn’t one of those guys growing up that had like 20 championships,” Nick said. “I didn’t win a whole lot when I was younger, but to finally win a title in a series that’s offered me so much experience is something I’ll hold onto.”

A new phase of Nick’s career is now on the horizon, but he plans to carry all the advice Siegel continues to provide so he can proudly represent NASCAR’s rapidly changing future as a Cuban-American and Drive for Diversity alum.