Rockingham: Matt Merrell race report

Matt Merrell; Win-Tron Racing Surge To Top-Five Effort At The Rock; Career Best Finish Perfect Birthday Gift For Upcoming Driver ROCKINGHAM, North Carolina (April 20, 2009) -- After conquering his career best finish two weeks ago at Salem ...

Matt Merrell; Win-Tron Racing Surge To Top-Five Effort At The Rock; Career Best Finish Perfect Birthday Gift For Upcoming Driver

ROCKINGHAM, North Carolina (April 20, 2009) -- After conquering his career best finish two weeks ago at Salem Speedway, Portland, Texas native Matt Merrell was determined to prove that he had a lot more on the table. He proved that Sunday afternoon in impressive fashion as Merrell guided Win-Tron Racing's No. 32 Colin's Hope Dodge Charger to a superb third place finish at Rockingham Speedway.

It was little surprise to the Win-Tron Racing team of Merrell's success at the one-mile oval Sunday as the Win-Tron Racing development driver was a threat when he competed in the USARacing Series event at Rockingham Speedway last year.

While he didn't get the finish he wanted that day, Merrell made Sunday's race count and posted a career-best finish for himself while awarding the long-time ARCA team its second top-five finish of the year.

The weekend started off respectable for the Minnesota-based operation as Merrell posted a solid practice effort with hopes for a strong run in qualifying.

An ill-handling racecar in time trails forced the No. 32 to an uncharacteristic 21st place starting position. Despite the odd performance, the team wasn't fazed with the run as they knew their car would be fast for the race.

When the green flag was thrown, Merrell took off like being shot out of a cannon. Quickly moving through the field, he found himself in the top-12 by lap 20.

Merrell had cleverly moved himself comfortably in the top-10 when the first set of routine pit stops took place. With four tires and gas, Merrell was ready to make another charge.

Comfortably hovering inside the top-10, Merrell found his red machine just outside the top-five when the leaders pitted again near halfway.

With fresh rubber, Merrell continued his charge towards the lead pack. Early on in the second-half of the run, the No. 32 creped up into the top-five. Holding steady it would be with the laps winding down that Merrell mounted a late race charge which awarded the driver with two positions and third overall on the rundown. Running low on gas, Merrell guided his No. 32 Colin's Hope machine to the checkered flag with his first podium finish on his 24th birthday.

The personal best finish came in Merrell's fifth career ARCA start.

"I'm super happy for everyone on the Win-Tron Racing team. The car was fantastic today. I wasn't expecting the second half of the event to be caution-free like it was, but it provided some great racing for the fans and we walked out of here with a great run. I knew that I had to take care of the tires and fuel and that's what propelled us to third. I hate that I won't be in the car for Talladega, but we'll try for a win here again real soon."

He added, "I was happy to give Colin's Hope a top-five finish. We tried for a win but after starting deep in the field, we'll take this finish and hope to be able to work more with this incredible organization in the near future."

Win-Tron Racing co-owner and team manager Nate Thiesse commented on Sunday's run by saying, "Matt showed everyone today why he's here competing in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. He drove a brilliant race and gave the team a vibrant finish. We're proud of his efforts and I'm proud of this team. Everyone has worked real hard and the results are showing just that."

Merrell Lease Service joined Colin's Hope as the primary sponsors of Merrell's No. 32 Dodge Charger in his first Rockingham start.

-credit: MattMerrellRacing.com.

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Matt Merrell