Matt Levin may not have earned a trophy on Saturday night at Tucson Speedway, but he left a winner in more ways than one.
The 44-year-old Tucson native wheeled his No. 10 Chevrolet to a sixth and fifth-place finish in both Port of Tucson Twin 100s, with the latter finish being the best of his five-year K&N Pro Series West career.
At the optional track test Friday night before the festivities got underway Saturday, Levin knew the car they brought (same one that finished seventh at Irwindale) was sporty enough to contend in uncharted territory for them.
"It was great," Levin said of his evening. "We tweaked on it for Tucson, changed it up a little but bit. But it really just feels good running in the top five, running second for a little bit in that second race. Found some speed, learning things, we’re making improvements. Every adjustment we made to the car reacted properly. All in all I was really pleased with our performance."
For a smaller team like Levin Racing, racing up against the series behemoths of Bill McAmally Racing, Sunrise Ford and from time to time, DGR-Crosley, it’s not easy to obtain eye-popping results. That’s what made Levin’s evening that much more satistying.
"When you’re running next to the BMR cars, Bruncati cars, DGR cars, you’re doing something," he said. "When you finish fifth, that means you passed one of those cars. It was definitely a good run for us."
Racing-Reference: Matt Levin Career Statistics
Crossing the top-five threshold also was sweet for the Tucson native. After finishing sixth twice (Tucson, 2016 and Roseville, 2018) and scoring 22 top 10 finishes, Levin crossed the finish line fifth for the first time in his career and ran there for the entire 100-lap feature.
"We’ve finished sixth handful of times," he said. "But to crack that top five, there’s no doubt that builds confidence in not only myself, but the team knowing that we can run up front with these guys. We’re a couple really small adjustments away from either sitting on a pole, running top three or potentially a win."
There was a noticeable buzz in the garage and on the grid surrounding the No. 10 camp. Levin welcomed around 60 children from the Boys and Girls Club of Tucson to the track where they experienced NASCAR for the first time.
"I took the car to two of the Boys and Girls Clubs in town and met a lot of those kids," he said. "During the autograph session and driver intros, a lot of those kids came up and told me how they were rooting for me. It wasn’t really pressure on me, but when I got in the car I thought of all those kids watching and it added motivation."
Tucson Alliance for Autism was front and center on the hood along with the Boys and Girls Clubs. The race weekend was more than a normal one for Levin. It was about giving back to the local community while in his happy place: his home track.
"I wanted to give them something to cheer for and be proud of," he said. "That was definitely cool having them out there and having those extra fans rooting you on."
Those young fans may not have gotten a win from Levin, but they definitely got a night to remember.
Levin and the No. 10 team will look to build upon their momentum at Colorado National Speedway on June 8.