Win-Tron Racing's Matt Merrell Heads to Familiar Territory at Iowa Speedway in Prairie Meadows 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series Race NEWTON IA (7-7-09) - Car owner Kevin Cywinski is currently second in car owner points headed to Iowa Speedway for...
Win-Tron Racing's Matt Merrell Heads to Familiar Territory at Iowa Speedway in Prairie Meadows 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series Race
NEWTON IA (7-7-09) - Car owner Kevin Cywinski is currently second in car owner points headed to Iowa Speedway for the running of the Prairie Meadows 200 Saturday, July 11. He trails car owner Jessica Sharp by just 25 points. But unlike Sharp, who's had Justin Lofton in the driver's seat everywhere in 2009, Cywinski has utilized three drivers so far in his quest for the car owner crown.
One of those drivers helping him get there is Portland, Texas's Matt Merrell, who's looking forward to getting back to familiar territory at Iowa. Merrell ran a Pro-Cup race at Iowa in 2008 and got to know the layout of the .875-mile D-shaped oval.
"We ran very well," said Merrell. "We started on the front row, had a really good car, but we dropped a cylinder in the race and ran on seven cylinders most of the way. Still finished 10th."
Merrell was also in strong contention for the win at Mansfield Motorsports Park with the ARCA RE/MAX Series in mid-June, leading 16 laps before the alternator stopped charging the battery.
"Felt like that one (Mansfield) slipped away from us. Felt like we could definitely have won that one. But overall, we're pretty pleased with our season this year, especially after all the bad luck we had last year."
For the most part, Merrell is sharing the no. 32 Win-Tron Racing entry this year with James Buescher. With the exception of Kelly Bires, who sat in at Talladega while Buescher ran the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in Texas, it's been the Merrell-Buescher tandem in 2009. Merrell has been in the seat for most of the short-track races while Buescher has occupied the Win-Tron chair for most of the superspeedways with the exception of Pocono and Talladega.
"If you're looking for big track experience, the ARCA RE/MAX Series is it," added Merrell, who finished an impressive fifth at Pocono. "Knowing how the car should feel at higher speeds on the big tracks is important, and there's a lot to learn."
Despite Merrell's 20th place finish at Mansfield, he's been rock-solid everywhere else earning a career-best third place finish at Rockingham Speedway, a pair of fifths at Pocono and Toledo Speedway, and an 11th place finish at Salem. That, combined with a pair of wins from Buescher at Daytona and Kentucky, has the Win-Tron team in the hunt for the car owner championship. Both Buescher and Merrell are entered in Win-Tron cars for Iowa.
"We're going to have two teams at Iowa, so we'll see how that plays out."
Outside of keeping his nose clean and the car out of harm's way, Merrell, based on his past experience at Iowa, has an understanding of what it takes to run up front on the Newton, Iowa short track.
"I really think the high line is going to be what it's going to take (at Iowa). We usually run the high line anyway everywhere we go. There are less people up there, and you can't pass cars by following them on the bottom. That, and keeping the car free enough so you can get the most speed down the straightaways, I think, will be key.
"We're still not sure which car will be our primary car for the race. We tested two in the Iowa test, but ran out of time on the one, so the guys will take 'em back to the shop, put 'em on the pull-down rig and go from there. The second car we tested could have been better; we just ran out of time.
"Either way, we know Win-Tron will have a top-notch car for the race. I know they sat on the pole (at Iowa) a couple years ago and finished third in the race."
Looking down the road in 2009, Merrell is scheduled to drive the Win-Tron car at Berlin and again at Pocono.
"We want to run Rockingham at the end of the season too and the dirt tracks. If we get sponsorship fulfilled we can do all that."
Merrell, when he's not racing, works in the family business with his father.
"Working with my dad back home today - in the oil construction business. We're checking on sites, looking for new jobs, whatever it takes. We lay pipeline, hook up wells, pretty much everything in the oil business except drill."
After a little oil exploration back home, it's up to Iowa Speedway for another ARCA RE/MAX Series adventure.
The Prairie Meadows 200 at Iowa Speedway is scheduled to go off Saturday, July 11 at 8:00 PM local time. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell precedes the race at 4:00 PM. The ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series will join the ARCA RE/MAX Series for an ARCA double-header with the IMTA 50 scheduled to go at 6:00 PM. The first on-track activity for the ARCA RE/MAX Series is a practice session on Friday, July 10 from 4:30 - 6:00 PM. The Star Mazda Series will join the race card on Friday with practice, qualifying and a race at 8:30 PM.
All on-track activity for the ARCA RE/MAX Series and the ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series will feature live streaming audio and video on the ARCA Racing Network at ARCAracing.com.