LONG POND, Pennsylvania (August 6, 2012) – – In his ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards return, Matt Merrell negotiated a respectable 12th place finish in this past Saturday’s Pennsylvania ARCA 125 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
Returning on the tour for the first time in over a year, Merrell looked to enhance his already impressive resume at the track dubbed as “The Tricky Triangle.” Unlike his previous experiences at the 2.5-mile triangle, the Portland, Texas native would have fewer laps to accomplish the feat, not to mention a newly repaved surface.
In the first practice session, Merrell in the No. 32 Toyota of Scranton / Red Line Oil Toyota Camry negotiated the 12th fastest lap reporting to the crew chief Mark Rette that his automobile was fighting a tight condition. Adjustments were made and gains were accomplished during the lone practice session on Friday afternoon – but following practice, the duo felt that they were heading in the right direction.
In qualifying, the 27-year old picked up nearly three tenths of a second from his best practice lap to land his Lakeville, Minnesota-based team 11th for the 14th race of the year.
Immediately following the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, the stars and cars of the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards turned their attention towards their 50-lap stint which took the green flag shortly after 3:00 p.m.
Throughout the race, Merrell in his No. 32 Toyota of Scranton / Red Line Oil Toyota Camry flirted with the top-12. After starting 11th, Merrell hovered in that position through the race’s first and only caution which waived on lap seven when Michael Levine crashed in turn one. Riding in 11th, Merrell and Rette discussed the handling under the yellow which Merrell said that his car was tight throughout the racetrack.
When eventual winner Chad Hackenbracht pitted, Merrell rose from 11th to 10th but a good restart on lap 13 by the Texan allowed the No. 32 Toyota of Scranton / Red Line Oil Toyota Camry to stay tucked in with the lead group. While fighting to keep his place inside the top-10, Merrell made light contact with the wall on lap 15.
The driver reported to his crew that he did not believe that the car was hurt and the spotter confirmed Merrell’s intuition. Still battling a tight No. 32 Toyota of Scranton / Red Line Oil Toyota Camry, the former ARCA winner would have to keep plugging as the field continued to race under green flag conditions. With a mandatory pit stop having to be made by lap 40 to avoid a five lap penalty, the leaders started pitting on lap 27 with Rette electing to keep his driver out hoping for a caution.
With the field clean and green through lap 35, Rette instructed his driver to bring his Toyota to pit lane on lap 36 for initially two tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. At the last moment, the call was made to switch from two tires to four with Merrell set to go to the checkered flag.
Despite a gallant effort by the team, they found themselves a lap down to Hackenbracht who pitted under the caution and remained on track during the long-green flag run; Merrell found himself trying to track down the No. 43 of Kyle Martel in the closing laps.
In the end, Merrell would run out of laps and take the checkered flag in 12th in his fourth career start at Pocono Raceway.
“Everyone on the Win-Tron Racing team really worked their tails off,” Merrell commented. “We were just tight throughout much of the weekend and Mark (Rette) made some great calls to get the car better – we just didn’t have enough laps to have everything fall into place for us to get a top-10 run. I just want to thank Nate (Thiesse, co car-owner) for allowing me the opportunity to come back and race as well as the folks and customers of Toyota of Scranton and Red Line Oil for jumping on-board with us this weekend. I hope to be back in the series again soon.”
Thiesse reflected on the weekend by saying, “Obviously, we’re thankful for Matt for giving it his all throughout the weekend for us,” he said. “When you have a short race like we had at Pocono, you have to be nearly perfect when you unload off the hauler. We weren’t there but Mark and the guys made great strides to try and make that happen. That’s commendable. We’ll take the 12th and move onto Berlin and hope we can repeat our trip to Victory Lane.”
Next up for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards in their 60th anniversary season is a trip Berlin (Mich.) Raceway for the running of the Berlin ARCA 200 presented by Hantz on Saturday night, August 11. Win-Tron Racing is the defending champion of the race after Merrell bolted to his first career victory last July at the .4-mile oval. Wrestler now turned racecar driver Mason Mingus will return to the seat for the ninth time in 2012.
Further information including driver opportunities with Win-Tron Racing is available by visiting win-tronracing.comor contacting Nate Thiesse at 612.306.1641
About Win-Tron Racing:
Located in Lakeville, Minnesota, Win-Tron Racing is the home of one the most potent ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards single-car operations. Owned by former racers Kevin Cywinski and Nate Thiesse, the team since has acquired the assets of County Joe Racing has become a favorable fixture on the circuit. Since Win-Tron Racing’s inception in 2007, the team has hosted a variety of drivers including leading drivers James Buescher, Blake Bjorklund, Justin Marks and Matt Merrell to their first career ARCA victories. In 2012, the team will begin its sixth year of competition with current drivers Chris Windom, Mason Mingus, Aleks Gregory and Merrell.