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Matt Merrell; Win-Tron Racing Frustrated By Iowa Finish

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Matt Merrell, Prairie Meadows 200

Matt Merrell; Win-Tron Racing Frustrated By Iowa Finish

Chris Knight
Knight Motorsports Management
Win-Tron Racing
July 18, 2011

Matt Merrell
NEWTON, Iowa (July 18, 2011) - - After recording their first ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards victory together last weekend at Berlin (Mich.) Raceway, Win-Tron Racing and driver Matt Merrell truly experienced the highs and lows of racing after suffering misfortune in the Prairie Meadows 200 at Iowa Speedway.

Armed with the same piece that took them to victory in the 10th installment of the season, the Lakeville, Minnesota-based team felt confident heading into the first of two practice sessions Friday afternoon.

During the first session, Merrell in his No. 32 Champion Hi-Tech Lubricants Dodge Charger produced the 16th fastest time after complaining of a tight condition on his automobile. Changes made by crew chief Mike Chaffee for the final practice session had the team ready to make a climb. In happy hour, the Portland, Texas native climbed to 12th fastest overall but the former USARacing Pro Cup Series star was still complaining of a tight condition.

Baffled by the car’s handling, Chaffee, car chief Mike Resop and Merrell went back to the drawing board Friday night and Saturday morning opting to go with a completely different setup for qualifying.

In time trials, Merrell whistled his No. 32 Champion Hi-Tech Lubricants Dodge Charger around the .875-mile paved oval to a time of 24.297 seconds at 129.646 miles per hour, the team’s fastest lap of the weekend awarding the veteran organization with a solid 13th place starting position.

Amidst scorching temperatures and humid air, the Prairie Meadows 200 took the green flag shortly after 4:00 p.m. local time. The field would be slowed before the completion of lap one when Milka Duno spun in turn three. During that first lap though, Merrell had climbed into the 12th position where he restarted the race on lap six.

With the field setting into their first span of consecutive green flag racing laps, Merrell found himself sliding back through the field as laps clicked away with the 26-year old once again informing his team that his No. 32 Champion Hi-Tech Lubricants Dodge Charger was tight.

Continuing a green flag run, Merrell would find himself lose a lap to the leaders 30 circuits into the event. Maintaining his position inside the top-20, Merrell would have the opportunity to bring his No. 32 Champion Hi-Tech Lubricants Dodge Charger to pit road when the second yellow flag waived when two cars appeared to have blown their right front tire.

Chaffee brought his driver to pit road where four tires, fuel and a major chassis adjustment were in order to help Merrell combat his handling issues.

Ready to resume racing, Merrell had barely begun to climb to full song before a ball joint failure sent the most recent winner in ARCA competition hard into the outside wall.

Able to limp his machine back to pit road, the Win-Tron Racing crew quickly reviewed the damage before deciding to take their No. 32 Champion Hi-Tech Lubricants Dodge Charger behind the pit wall. The damage was deemed to severe forcing them to withdraw from competition and suffer a disappointing 29th place finish.

“It’s very frustrating to go from celebrating a win to having a race like we did in Iowa,” offered Merrell. “It’s just been our luck lately. We’ll have a good week and then something out of the ordinary will happen and bite us hard. I hate it for Win-Tron and Champion, we were looking forward to having a good weekend.”

Car owner Nate Thiesse offered his thoughts on this weekend’s race. “We are all shaking our heads wondering why. We made some strides throughout the weekend but ultimately ran into more bad luck. We’ll dissect this car very thoroughly and try to see what exactly happened.”

With the mishap, Merrell slid to eighth in the championship standings and sits just 10 points from retaking seventh from fellow competitor Tom Hessert III.

Next up for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is a welcomed trip back to Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, formally known as O’Reilly Raceway Park (ORP) for the running of the Ansell Protective Gloves 200 set for Thursday, July 28th. The iconic short track event will be aired live on SPEED beginning at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Merrell made his 24th career start in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards at Iowa Speedway this weekend. In those 24 outings, Merrell has one win (Berlin (Mich.) Raceway, July 2011), nine top-fives and 12 top-10s. His best start position for Win-Tron Racing occurred at the tricky triangle of Pocono (Pa.) Raceway where he qualified his No. 32 CollinsHope.org Dodge Charger second in June of 2009.

Further information including driver opportunities with Win-Tron Racing is available by visiting win-tronracing.com or contacting Nate Thiesse at 612.306.1641

For more on Champion Brands LLC and their extensive line of products, please log on to championbrands.com or championsusechampion.com.

PHOTO CAPTION: Matt Merrell, driver of the No. 32 Champion Hi-Tech Lubricants Dodge Charger for Win-Tron Racing in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.



NAME: Chris Knight, Knight Motorsports Management
PHONE: 239.834.9797
EMAIL: chris@chrisknightpr.com / knight849@aol.com

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