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Matt Merrell Finishes What He Started At Berlin; Delivers First Career ARCA Victory

MARNE, Michigan (July 10, 2011) - - Portland, Texas native Matt Merrell finished what he started in 2009 Saturday night at Berlin (Mich.) Raceway by overpowering Tim George Jr. on a late-race restart to grab his first career win in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards in the Hantz Group 200.
 

The triumph was a nice and welcomed reward for Merrell and his Lakeville, Minnesota-based Win-Tron Racing team after several weeks of misfortune tried to damper the team’s confidence and spirit.
 
From the moment the No. 32 Champion Brands Dodge Charger unloaded from the hauler on Saturday afternoon, it was a rocket ship. After netting the 13th fastest time in practice, Merrell stepped up to the plate in qualifying and rocketed his automobile to the third fastest time.
 
During the course of the 10th race of the 2011 ARCA Racing Series, Merrell patiently waited to make his move on pole sitter Grant Enfinger. Merrell took the lead shortly before halfway and carried the lead over into the second half of the slugfest.  
 
A caution on lap 117 allowed the Win-Tron Racing team to make their lone trip to pit road. With four tires and fuel, Merrell was set for the remainder of the race, but returned to the race track second behind new leader Tim George Jr.
 
While George Jr. appeared to be heading towards his second career victory in the ARCA Racing Series, Merrell riding in second was begging for a caution as he knew that he had enough to battle for the top-spot in his No. 32 Champion Brands Dodge Charger. Merrell’s wish came true when the yellow flag waived on lap 189.
 
Just after the restart, Merrell brilliantly made an inside move on George Jr. to inherit the lead before the caution flag waived with Merrell at the point. Setting up for the green and white flags waiving simultaneously, Merrell held off a last-lap attempt by George Jr., but it was the No. 32 Champion Dodge Charger with Merrell at the helm taking the checkered flag first, ahead of a massive melee occurring behind him on the frontstretch. The 26-year old finished 0.289-seconds ahead of George Jr.
 
Merrell’s first career victory comes in his 23rd career ARCA Racing Series and exceeds past two runner-up finishes at Berlin (Mich.) Raceway and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in 2009.
 
“Man, I don’t know what to say, this is awesome,” said the jubilant driver. “I cannot thank Win-Tron Racing, Kevin (Cywinski), Nate (Thiesse), Mike (Chafee, crew chief), Mike(Resop, car chief) and the entire team enough for all that they have done for me. They have stood behind me because they believed in me and I am so glad I’m finally able to give them a victory. We had an awesome car tonight. The Champion Brands Dodge was stellar. Tim (George Jr.) was able to get away from us all on that restart but I knew if we could get back to him, that we would have something for him. Thankfully, the caution flag came back out late in the race and I was able to do what I knew our Champion Brands Dodge Charger was capable of.”
 
He continued, “This is our first win with Champion Brands and I’m thrilled for them. We’ve had a couple of tough weeks, but I knew that if there was a track that I could give them a win, Berlin would be the place. I have an early flight Sunday morning, but we’re definitely going to do some celebrating before I get on the plane!”
Co-car owner Nate Thiesse offered, “We knew it was just a matter of time before Matt would take Win-Tron Racing to victory lane. He wanted it bad tonight and you could see that from the moment that green flag dropped. I’m stoked for him and this entire Win-Tron Racing team. This was a big night for us and I could not be more proud!”
The annual trip to Berlin (Mich.) Raceway, just on the outskirts of Grand Rapids signifies the ninth race that Champion Brands heeded the role as the primary sponsor of the No. 32 Dodge Charger. Headquartered in Clinton, Missouri, Champion Brands LLC produces and blends more than 300 products including fuel, oil and engine additives and lubricants for the automotive, heavy truck, agricultural and specialty markets.
 
Saturday night’s win was the first for Win-Tron Racing since Justin Marks led the team to Victory Lane at Palm Beach (Fla.) International Raceway last February.

Next up for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is a trip out West to Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa for the running of the Prairie Meadows 200 on Saturday, July 16th. The 11th race of the season will air live on SPEED and ARCARacing.com beginning at 4:00 p.m.

Merrell made his 24th career start in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards at Berlin (Mich.) Raceway this weekend. In his previous 23 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 Oil, Champion Brands LLC and their products, please logon to championbrands.com or championsusechampion.com.
  
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TEAM COMMUNICATIONS CONTACT:
NAME: Chris Knight, Knight Motorsports Management   
PHONE: 239.834.9797                       
EMAIL: chris@chrisknightpr.com / knight849@aol.com
 
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