Matt Kurzejewski Building Momentum into the Summerby Kyle Pokrefky May 24, 2016
TOLEDO, Ohio — A string of improving results extended further for Matt Kurzejewski at Toledo Speedway on Sunday as the full-time driver of the No. 52 Ansell/Menards Toyota finished the Menards 200 in the fifth position.
Kicking the season off at Daytona International Speedway with a crash that relegated the driver for Ken Schrader Racing to a 29th-place finish, each respective finish since Daytona has been an improvement for the 24-year-old.
At Nashville, Kurzejewski recorded a 13th-place finish; a ninth-place result came at Salem and prior to Toledo he recorded a season-best eighth at Talladega Superspeedway.
Exiting Toledo, Kurzejewski now has his first top-five finish of the season to his credit.
Speaking to The Fourth Turn following Sunday’s race, the driver of the No. 52 car in the ARCA Racing Series talked about the strides forward his team has made since the start of the season.
“It’s an improvement,” Kurzejewski said on Sunday. “We’re moving on up and building momentum. Today went well. The team did excellent – the crew guys yesterday did a great job with the car and the pit crew guys did a great job today on the pit stops.
While Kurzejewski praised his crew’s performance with the car and on pit road, he stated that he felt that he didn’t live up to his full potential during the race.
“I didn’t do my part the best I could,” he continued. “I struggled in picking up. I’ve been here once and I don’t remember it being so hard. We learned a lot and Schrader helped me a lot, we would have done a lot better if I had listened to him for the first 150 laps to drive differently and drive different lines. We made progress.”
Improved communication between Kurzejewski and his Ken Schrader Racing crew has been a factor in the strengthened result on the race track.
Kurzejewski also notes that the equipment has been steadily improving with each successive race and that it’s up to him to adjust to each new setup with each track he goes to next.
“It’s starting to come together, I spent the better part of the week with the team,” Kurzejewski said. “I talked with them and we’re getting along better.
“Everything with the car we’re making a lot of progress. I like a different driving style, I like my cars loose and some of the setups I’ve had haven’t been that way. It’s the car, it’s me and trying to figure out how it is with the track.”
The defending General Tire Superspeedway Challenge champion heads into a particularly favorable schedule over the course of the next month.
Races at the favorable Pocono and Michigan could provide Kurzejewski’s best finishes of the season yet and two short tracks at Madison and Winchester could also prove to yield strong finishes.
The next challenge on the ARCA schedule for the series, however, is a challenge unlike the rest – the series’s lone road course race of the year at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
Given that he holds past experience on road courses in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Kurzejewski is feeling up to next week’s challenge.
“The road course I’m excited to go to,” Kurzejewski said. “I’m not displaying that much because I don’t want to get there and fall on my face, but I’ve been successful at Watkins Glen in the past and I’ve ran well at Virginia International Raceway. I’ve never been to New Jersey Motorsports Park.
“Growing up in Pennsylvania from a young age in a rural area with not much highways and a lot of backroad winding roads and zero traffic. I’ve got a bad driving record from practicing. New Jersey I’m excited to get to, I think we’ll do well.”
The Twilight 150 presented by Unique Pretzels will get underway on Saturday at 5:00 p.m ET with live timing, scoring and radio being hosted on ARCAracing.com.
Photo Credit: ARCAracing.com