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Oct 30, 2012 - 04:14 PM
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Win-Tron Racing Makes NASCAR Debut At Martinsville
Posted by: newsla on Oct 30, 2012 - 04:09 PM
Win-Tron Racing Makes NASCAR Debut At Martinsville

Even though Win-Tron Racing didn’t produce the finish that they wanted Saturday afternoon at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in the Kroger 200, they did however, achieve some of the goals they sought in their inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) debut.


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With Matt Merrell, former ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards winner, behind the wheel of the No. 35 Win-Tron Racing / Merrell Leasing Chevrolet Silverado, his goal was strictly to make the starting field in the final short track race of the season.

42 trucks vying for a 36-truck starting field and zero experience around the track known for its paper-clip layout, the pressure was on for the Portland, Texas native to shine.

Turning 37 laps in the first practice session Friday morning, Merrell produced the 31st quickest lap and offered to crew chief Mark Rette that he was still adapting to this new style of racing. Thankfully, Rette’s prior experience in the NCWTS would reap its benefits allowing him to confer with his rookie about the handling on their Chevrolet Silverado.

In final practice, a few hours later, the chatter between crew chief and driver paid dividends as the Texan mounted his quickest lap around the Virginia-based track in 20.078 seconds at 94.312 miles per hour notched on his 68th lap around Martinsville Speedway.

“I’m happy with the truck,” said Merrell leaving the track on Friday afternoon. “It’s going to be tough to make this race, because the field is so close, but I feel that we can do. Hopefully the rain stays away.”

Saturday, the teams arrived with overcast skies and cooler temperatures. Qualifying lifted off at 10:35 a.m. with sprinkles moving in. During his time trials run, Merrell whipped his No. 35 Win-Tron Racing / Merrell Leasing Chevrolet Silverado to a time of 19.949 seconds or 94.922 miles per hour, his quickest lap of the weekend.

The Lakeville, Minnesota-based team had little reason to worry about making the Kroger 200 as Merrell’s first lap alone locked him into the show. But, his second-lap rose him from fifth quickest over to the top spot where he remained for several trucks before eventually landing 18th for the starting lineup.

Safely secured into his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut, the 27-year old’s main objective was to complete all 200 laps.

From the drop of the green flag, Merrell kept his race truck out of trouble and on the lead lap. While remaining mainly quietly on the radio, the former Rev-Oil Pro Cup Series competitor was logging laps but his day will ultimately end short on a restart at lap 35.

As the driver tried to engage his transmission into high gear, a piece inside the transmission broke completely, leaving the inability to shift out of second gear. Merrell slowly brought his No. 35 Win-Tron Racing / Merrell Leasing Chevrolet Silverado to pit road where the team diagnosed the problem as terminal, sending them to the garage for the remainder of the day.

“Well, this wasn’t the run that we wanted in our debut,” said Merrell, who was credited with a 34th-place run. “The truck wasn’t actually too bad. I was just minding my matters and saving our stuff until it was time to go. Mark (Rette) did a good job getting the truck in good (handling) shape. I felt like we easily would have had a shot at a top-15, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Win-Tron Racing co-truck owner Nate Thiesse offered his insight on his team’s inaugural debut into NASCAR. “Obviously, it’s disappointing to come to a race and not finish what you started. Matt and the Win-Tron Racing team did a super job all weekend. Through the practices and qualifying, we were able to get the truck better. Sometimes in racing, you’re going to have failures and the issue with the transmission wasn’t something we could predict or prevent. It’s just one of those things. We’ll try again soon.”

While the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to Texas Motor Speedway next weekend for the running of the WinStar World Casino 350K. Win-Tron Racing is hopeful to return to competition at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway for the running of the Lucas Oil 150 on Friday, November 9.

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