Matt Merrell Looks Like A Veteran At Pocono Raceway LONG POND, Pennsylvania (June 8, 2009) - - Matt Merrell in the No. 32 Colin's Hope Dodge Charger looked more like a veteran than a rookie in the Pocono ARCA 200 Saturday at Pocono Raceway. The...
Matt Merrell Looks Like A Veteran At Pocono Raceway
LONG POND, Pennsylvania (June 8, 2009) - - Matt Merrell in the No. 32 Colin's Hope Dodge Charger looked more like a veteran than a rookie in the Pocono ARCA 200 Saturday at Pocono Raceway. The maturity level showed and awarded Merrell with a satisfying fifth place finish for Win-Tron Racing.
The result was the third straight top-five finish for the Portland, Texas native as his streak began at Rockingham Speedway in April with a career best third followed by two consecutives fifth place runs at Toledo Speedway and most recently the Long Pond oval.
Pressure was definitely on Merrell's shoulders heading into the event as Merrell was making the biggest ARCA start of his life and with the guidance of the Win-Tron Racing team and crew chief Mike Chaffee, Merrell succeeded.
Persistent rain on Friday at Pocono Raceway hindered track activity until Saturday forcing ARCA officials to wash out qualifying for the third straight event. The Win-Tron Racing wasn't going to complain about the call as the team was going to start the seventh race of the year from the second position, the outside of row number one.
In the single and short practice session Saturday morning, Merrell looked to the effort as a chance to find the perfect line around the 2.5-mile triangle while also finding a comfortable setup for the No. 32 Colin's Hope Dodge Charger.
By the end of practice Merrell had posted the fifth fastest effort overall, an eye-opener for sure considering Merrell's status at the tricky track.
"We have a good car," said Merrell, the Win-Tron Racing development driver. "The guys brought a well built and sturdy racecar and I'm looking forward to seeing what it can do in the race."
At the start of the 80-lap event, Merrell kept his machine inside the top-three when the first round of pit stops occurred approaching half-way. The pit stop would come with a price as a tire got away from the team forcing Merrell to take a penalty and start at the tail end of the longest line. With the penalty, the team decided to make another trip on pit road to top off the fuel anticipating a long-green flag run.
On the restart, Merrell powered through the field and found himself back in the top-10 when the next caution flag waived inside the race's final 30 laps. The team took the opportunity to bring their driver to pit road for four tires and fuel. The recharging would set Merrell up for the last run of the day.
In the final 20 circuits, Merrell inched his way through the running order and had climbed into the fifth position in the final laps where he would take the checkered flag.
"It was a good day," said Merrell after the race. "I'm really happy for Colin's Hope and the guys on the Win-Tron Racing team. We had a miscue on the first pit stop and we had to play catch-up. The car was good, we just needed some more laps and I think we could have moved ourselves back into the top-three. Overall though, I'll happy. It was a great point's day for the Win-Tron bunch."
Merrell added, "I like Pocono Raceway. It's a neat place for sure. I learned a lot out there and had a chance to race with a lot of good cars. I hope I'm able to come back and race here real soon."
Nate Thiesse, co-owner and general manager of Win-Tron Racing offered his thoughts on Pocono. "Matt did a fantastic job. He was pretty much flawless. Pocono is no joke and Matt looked like a driver that had been racing there for 10 years compared to a driver who was making his debut. He is continuing to impress everyone each and every race he competes in."
Next up for the ARCA RE/MAX Series is a stop in the Motor City for the running of the Racing for Wildlife 200 at Michigan International Speedway. James Buescher who won his most recent outing with Win-Tron Racing at Kentucky Speedway will take advantage of a double-duty weekend and return to the No.32 Wolfpack Rentals TOYOTA Camry. Matt Merrell is scheduled to return to the seat at Mansfield Motorsports Park on June 20.