One look at the results from Daytona and Talladega, you'd think Matt Merrell is a series veteran and has practice on the restrictor plates. New Flash - you're wrong as the Portland, Texas native is only a rookie at this.
Despite that, Merrell finished third at Daytona in February and this past weekend, he finished 10th at Talladega.
Merrell qualified the car 12th, though once the green flag fell, Merrell was up to sixth 16 laps into the event.
The first caution came out on lap 16 for Terry Jones losing a motor, in which crew chief Mike Chaffee brought Merrell down pit road for fuel only. This set Merrell back outside of the top 10 as the leaders stayed out, though he was back up to fifth by lap 27.
Merrell stayed the rest of the day in positions sixth through eighth mostly, till the final restart where he got kicked back to 10th.
“The race was pretty intense,” Merrell said. “We had a good Champion Brands Toyota Camry, we just couldn’t get lined up with the right partners at the end and it hurt us for a better finish. I continue to be thankful to Champion Brands, Nate (Thiesse, Win-Tron Racing, co-car owner), Kevin (Cywinski, Win-Tron Racing, co-car owner) for the opportunity to drive their race car. I hate that we didn’t get a win or another top-five but we’ve definitely had a good start to the season.”
Nate Thiesse, co-owner and backstretch spotter for Merrell, said that he was impressed with the performance.
“Matt continues to impress everyone at Win-Tron Racing," he said. "He does a magnificent job in the draft. He was able to come from the back to the front on multiple occasions. Unfortunately, we just ran out of time. This was our first race with Champion Brands aboard and we’re all happy with the results.”