TOLEDO, Ohio (May 17, 2011) – - Despite her lack of experience on a short track in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, Maryeve Dufault flexed her muscle in the No. 12 VR-12 / Dodge Motorsports / UNOH Dodge Charger during Sunday’s Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care at Toledo Speedway.
The 2011 ARCA Racing Series Rookie of the Year candidate had full intentions of utilizing the experience she gained during a private test at the half-mile oval several days prior. With crew chief Darren Wolfe calling the shots and resultant confidence from spotter Gary Johnson, father of six time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson – Dufault was in good hands.
Mother Nature played havoc with the track conditions early Saturday forcing adjustments in the day’s schedule which now included two practices and the cancellation of qualifying. By the conclusion of the first practice, Dufault had locked her No. 12 VR-12 / Dodge Motorsports / UNOH Dodge Charger in the 15th position right behind teammate Jared Marks.
A few adjustments later and Dufault was ready for final practice. Continuing to learn the tricks and trades of the fast short track, the former open-wheel driver maneuvered the 16th fastest time, very respectable for her first tango with the Northern Ohio race track.
Because of the removal of time trials from the day’s activities, Dufault would start the 200-lap event 29th on the field according to the 2011 ARCA Racing Series rule book.
For the second consecutive weekend, rain would drench the race track on race day forcing ARCA Racing Series officials to spend a majority of the morning drying the Northern Ohio race track. The command to start engines was given shortly before 2:00 p.m. with the drivers circling the track under yellow and green flag conditions together to officially begin the fourth race of the season.
The all-clear would be given by lap 20 putting the field under true racing conditions. Knowing that the race had the opportunity to be called at the half-way point, the Sorel, Quebec native quickly began negotiating her way through the pack.
By the time the second yellow flag waived, Dufault had successfully raced her No. 12 VR-12 / Dodge Motorsports / UNOH Dodge Charger into the top-half dozen competition with a very neutral race car.
Johnson remained a cheerleader on the restart to help to Dufault mull over her competition. “You’re doing a real good job Mary,” said Johnson. “Don’t worry once the tires wear down you’ll go right around ‘em – just be patient.”
When the leaders stacked up on the backstretch on lap 37, Dufault showed incredible car control as she was able to glide her Dodge Charger through the carnage finding herself beating on the door of the top-10.
Racing resumed with Dufault making her attack but as the group of cars she was racing with entered turn three on lap 58, a slower machine on the bottom of the track forced the No. 12 VR-12 / Dodge Motorsports / UNOH Dodge Charger to check-up; setting off a chain-reaction result from behind but not before another competitor plowed into the back of the No. 12 TMR entry which ultimately sent her machine hard into the wall.
Coming to rest at the bottom of turn three, Dufault was able to climb from her machine under her own power, agitated but okay. The encouraging performance though would be overshadowed by the 23rd place finish as Dufault; herself experienced what it was like to become a victim of tight short track racing.
“I was really happy with our No. 12 VR-12 / Dodge Motorsports / UNOH Dodge Charger,” said an obviously disappointed Dufault. “The car was running great and I seemed to really be getting around the track well. I was moving up thru the field to a comfortable position to just ride. The No. 28 closed the door on me while I was outside passing him he was slower. But, he went to the wall like it was clear and that almost squished into the wall where the gate entrance was. I backed off a little but the No. 17 had to go left and hit my rear corner really hard that sent me into the wall. Obviously this is not how we wanted to finish, especially as strong of a car that the Tony Marks Racing team gave me.”
She added, “going around slower traffic is really hard for me I don’t want to cause them to wreck but they caused me a wreck and it’s the second time that has happened. We needed a good day for the points and for everyone who supports me and Tony Marks Racing but they say this is racing. It’s just frustrating. No one likes taking home a wrecked race car and we didn’t need to do it two weeks in-a-row. The positive coming out of Toledo is that we were fast and showed that we can be contenders. We’ll get No. 12 VR-12 / Dodge Motorsports / UNOH Dodge Charger repaired and tackle the again on the next short track.”
TMR owner Tony Marks commented on Dufault’s performance.
“Maryeve did a great job, it wasn’t her fault,” he said. “While we’re disappointed that we didn’t get the finish that we all wanted, it was great to see both TMR right in the thick of the battle. We are a driver development team, we are here to teach and learn, and this is all part of it. Maryeve is a very smart, talented driver and I am very happy to have her behind the wheel of my race cars. We just have to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward with our head held high; because that’s the way we’ll persevere when we have races like this. Toledo is over and it’s onto New Jersey.”
Teammate Jared Marks, the 16-year old sophomore at Napoleon High School finished a respectable 13th in his ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards debut behind the wheel of the No. 8 VR-12 / Dodge Motorsports / UNOH Dodge Charger.
Next up for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is the lone stop at a road course. The ModSpace 150 is set for next Sunday, May 22 at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) in Millville, New Jersey. Dufault has high expectations for round five of the season as her previous racing background includes road course racing.
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About Tony Marks Racing (TMR):
Tony Marks Racing was founded in 2009 through the passion for racing of team owner and former driver Tony Marks. Marks is the successful owner of TMT, Inc., a logistics, warehousing and packaging company with over 400 employees whose customers are mainly comprised of Fortune 100 companies.
Marks began his racing career in 1985 getting behind the wheel of everything from drag racers, Dirt Late Models, SCCA Formula Fords, USAC F2000 Open Wheel and ARCA cars. Tony personally raced until 2005 amassing numerous wins, championships and track records along the way until he then changed his focus from driver to owner and began building racing programs for his children Jared (16 years old) and Rachel (13 years old). Under the auspices of TMR, Jared began his racing career in 2002 in quarter midgets and now competes in late model, CRA, ASA and ARCA Series events while Rachel continues her development program racing quarter midgets and Bandoleros.
TMR has been at the forefront of charitable giving through its’ “Driving Against Hunger” and “Million Meal Challenge” race programs which have raised over $200,000 for Forgotten Harvest in 2010 at the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series events at Michigan International Speedway.
For the NASCAR events TMR along with TMT, Inc. partnered with Forgotten Harvest for the “Million Meal Challenge For Our Kids” which helps to bridge the hunger gap while schools are out of session and feeds 20,000 children per day in the Detroit metro area. Forgotten Harvest was significantly displayed on the entry of Chase Austin during both the Truck and Nationwide events at Michigan International Speedway along with logos of “Million Meal Challenge” sponsors Walgreen’s, United Race Group, Holyfield’s Choice Alka-Power Water and Vitamin Spice. Evander Holyfield was also instrumental in the challenge, acting as Grand Marshall for the August race and announcing his “Fight Against Hunger” on behalf of Forgotten Harvest.
As the first race team to “Drive Against Hunger” through their partnership with Forgotten Harvest, TMR plans to continue their alliance with Forgotten Harvest and once again “Drive Against Hunger” during the 2011 season.