Ponoco II: Matt Merrell race report

Matt Merrell Records Second Consecutive Runner-Up Finish At Pocono Raceway LONG POND, Pennsylvania (August 4, 2009) - - In what very well could be his last race of the 2009 ARCA RE/MAX Series (ARS), Win-Tron Racing development driver Matt...

Matt Merrell Records Second Consecutive Runner-Up Finish At Pocono Raceway

LONG POND, Pennsylvania (August 4, 2009) - - In what very well could be his last race of the 2009 ARCA RE/MAX Series (ARS), Win-Tron Racing development driver Matt Merrell backed-up his career best second place finish with his second consecutive runner-up finish at Pocono Raceway in last Saturday's Pennsylvania ARCA 200.

Merrell had every reason to be looking forward to the 2.5-mile oval. In June, Merrell answered to his Pocono Raceway debut with an impressive fifth place finish.

To no surprise, Win-Tron Racing started the weekend off on the right foot when Merrell produced the third fastest lap time in the weekend's only practice when he piloted the No. 32 Colin's Hope-Red Line Oil Dodge Charger to a lap of 54.463 seconds transferring to a speed of 165.250 miles per hour.

"The car is awesome," said Merrell. "Mike (Chaffee) and the team really want to get back into victory lane and they have given me a car that is capable of pulling it off. There is a strong field here this weekend, we just to keep our nose clean and be around at the end."

Unable to qualify because of rain, the field would be lined-up based upon 2009 ARCA RE/MAX Series car owner points which gridded Merrell third on the starting lineup.

From the drop of the green, Merrell never found himself out of the top-10. Challenging for the top spot early on, the No. 32 Colin's Hope machine would hold steady in the top-five through a round of pit stops.

A caution following much of the field's green flag pit stop would retain the Kevin Cywinski owned machine inside the top-10.

During the race's second half, the No. 32 would remain a sleeper in the field but it would be the final twenty laps when the Win-Tron Racing machine would emerge in the spotlight.

Late in the race, Merrell would work his way into the top-five and would be sitting in the fourth position inside the final 10 laps of the event when the second and third place cars made contact with the No. 77 slamming into the turn four wall.

The yellow flag set up an exciting green-white-checkered finish. Merrell was in focus to use the potential last restart to his advantage. He did just that.

Back to racing, the No. 32 made a charge and pass on the No. 25 of Steve Arpin. With just one lap remaining and the No. 6 of Justin Lofton in his sights for the second consecutive week, Merrell was looking to take advantage of any mistakes from his colleague.

Despite a gallant effort, Merrell came up short and would have to settle for his fifth top-five finish of the year.

"Man, I just needed a couple more laps and I think we could have beaten him (Justin Lofton)," said Merrell. "I'm really proud of the Win-Tron Racing team. They never give up and I really appreciate their support of me. I don't know if I'll be in the car any more this season because of sponsorship, but I've enjoyed the ride this season. Hopefully something will come together and maybe I'll be back in the seat a couple more times this season."

"I'm so proud of Matt's accomplishments this season," said Nate Thiesse, co-owner of Win-Tron Racing. "Matt came into this year focused and determined to prove to the world that he is a talented racecar driver and has what it takes to get the job done. The entire team couldn't have asked for anything from him this season. We hope this isn't the last race of the year for him. We are diligently working around the clock to keep in the seat."

In eight starts this season for the Lakeville, Minnesota based team, Matt Merrell has racked up five top-five finishes and eight top-20 finishes. He has an average starting position of sixth and an average finish of eighth. He has led 16 laps this season.

Next up for the ARCA RE/MAX Series is the first of two stops to the one-mile dirt ovals with the first coming at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Illinois for the running of the Allen Crowe 100 on Sunday, August 23rd.

-credit: wtr

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Justin Lofton , Matt Merrell