Concord, North Carolina (April 25, 2016) — Contact with the turn four wall late in the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 while battling inside the top-5, resulted in a ninth place finish for Matt Kurzejewski and the No. 52 Ansell-Menards Toyota.
Kurzejewski, who made his debut on the high banks of Salem Speedway during the 99th running of the ARCA Racing Series event at the famed track, was 10th fastest during Saturday’s practice sessions.
“Salem takes a lot of patience while on the edge of your seat each lap,” said Kurzejewski following Saturday’s practices. The 24-year-old qualified 15th for the race during Menards Pole Qualifying Presented by Ansell.
“I’ve never had to drive a racecar like I had to drive this Ansell-Menards Toyota during qualifying,” Kurzejewski continued. “You literally hold your breath and are completely out of control for two solid laps.”
When the green flag fell for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200, Kurzejewski would quickly get in a rhythm and work his way up to the ninth position by lap 60.
“Once I got the hang of the track, I felt the car was really good. Donnie (Richeson) and the Ken Schrader Racing guys worked hard and found what we needed to be fast here. We could get off turn two better than anyone else and that was a tremendous help when passing cars.”
Under caution at lap 76, the Ansell-Menards team brought Kurzejewski down pit road for two tires and fuel. An excellent pit stop garnered several spots on pit road.
Kurzejewski then battled inside the top-10 while trying to save his tires and be patient. A caution would fly at lap 130 and the team took this opportunity to come down pit road and take four fresh General Tires. Restarting fifth after pit stops, Kurzejewski found himself getting sucked into the turn four wall and received a famed “Salem Stripe”. The team pitted during the next caution for cosmetic repair to the right side of the machine.
“You are riding up against that turn four wall the entire race and I got a little too close and it sucked me right in,” Kurzejewski said. “I felt bad for the guys because we had a top-three car before this happened.”
After several pit stops to repair the damage to the Ansell-Menards Toyota, Kurzejewski battled back for a respectable ninth place finish and his first top-10 of the 2016 season.
“This place is a lot of fun; I wish we could come back tomorrow. Kenny (Schrader) kept telling me to be more patient and the track would come to me, he was right. Once we got going there, I felt I could race up front and contend for the win. I can’t wait to come back to Salem in the fall and try it again.”
Up next for Kurzejewski and the Ansell-Menards team will be the General Tire 200 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 29. This race will be televised live on Fox Sports 1 at 6 p.m. (EST).