Trackhouse heading into Sunday’s race at the championship-challenging Roval
Posted 5:39 p.m. on Saturday, October 8, 2022
By JENNA FRYER
AP Motor Racing Editor
CONCORD — The first racing book Justin Marks ever read was called ‘The Unfair Advantage’, written during a sabbatical by the late Mark Donohue about his boss Roger Penske.
Marks grew up in admiration of Penske, Rick Hendrick and Joe Gibbs, the main owners of American motorsport. At the age of 15, Marks had his picture taken with Gibbs at the 1996 Daytona 500. He wanted to be a racecar driver and achieved it with 80 starts in NASCAR’s three national series.
He never raced a full season, won only one career race, and eventually turned to his entrepreneurial endeavors, including becoming an owner of NASCAR. He started Trackhouse Racing a season ago.
On Sunday, the organization enters its 100th race ready to advance its two drivers to the round of 16.
The 41-year-old is beyond humbled by what he has accomplished and how quickly the team has become a legitimate challenger for NASCAR’s big dogs.
“These guys were my heroes and they represent what the true pinnacle of sport is, a sport I’m passionate about,” Marks said. “Just having the opportunity to walk around the garage as colleagues is incredibly humbling. Then for us to be in the playoffs and in a position to take them on so deep is humbling and a testament to that. everyone’s talent in this building and their hard work.
Ross Chastain and Daniel Suárez have combined this season to give Trackhouse its first three wins in team history. Chastain heads into Sunday’s playoff race on The Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway third in the standings, needing to finish ninth or better to automatically advance to the next round. Suárez is seventh in the standings, 12 points above the boundary line and needs a place in the top eight to guarantee his progress.
The peloton will drop from 12 to eight but in reality only three drivers will be ruled out: Alex Bowman is ruled out for a second consecutive week due to a concussion and will be eliminated.
Suárez believes he and Chastain can both battle it out on Charlotte’s hybrid road course which uses part of the oval. Chastain earned his first career Cup win at the COTA road course in Texas and Suarez’s only Cup win came at the Sonoma Raceway road course.
“We have a very good road course program at Trackhouse Racing. Both Ross and I have won races and been strong in every race,” Suárez said. “It’s a great feeling as a driver to know that you have a strong chance of winning every time you race.”
Marks started the team last season around Suárez, the only Mexican driver at NASCAR’s top level, on a leased charter because demand to buy the guaranteed spots in the field was too high. When he discovered during negotiations last year that the charter price was only going up – 23XI paid a record $13.5 million last season for its second – Marks borrowed a different path.
He called Chip Ganassi and asked if Ganassi was interested in selling him his NASCAR team. Ganassi listened to the pitch and in November handed over the keys to his racing store, employee contracts and two charters. Chastain was retained from the Ganassi lineup and the team was the surprise of the season.
Marks credits NASCAR’s new Next Gen car with part of Trackhouse’s success. Although the car is currently under intense scrutiny as three full-time drivers will miss Sunday’s race due to injuries sustained in crashes, Marks strongly believes the car has delivered on its promise to level the playing field. of the game and improve competition.
NASCAR heads to Charlotte with a record 19 different winners of points-paying races, while Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney won races without points to make them 21 different drivers on the winning lane this season.
“I’m a big believer that this car is going to be successful in cultivating a great – and I seem super redundant because I say this all the time – built a great culture where people are really excited about coming to work here,” Marks said. . “The work that we do on these race cars, now that in such a tight window and you can’t design gear that’s superior to another team’s gear, that’s the pride you take in the work that you do in assembling this piece of equipment.
“That’s what gave us the opportunity to do what we do.”
LOGANO IN POST
Joey Logano took pole for Sunday’s race at The Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a 103.424 mph lap to earn the top starting spot for the third time this season.
William Byron, who salvaged 25 points from an appeal committee this week that keeps him in the championship hunt, qualified second and was trailed by Daniel Suárez as the playoff drivers took the top three squares.
Tyler Reddick and Austin Cindric, who is below the cut line and in danger of elimination on Sunday, rounded out the top five. Playoff driver Ross Chastain veered off course in the final qualifying round and damaged his Chevrolet, which was being repaired so he didn’t need a backup car.
The No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports Ford of Josh Williams was not allowed to qualify after three failures during the pre-qualifying inspection. IndyCar driver Conor Daly’s Cup debut got off to a rocky start when the No. 50 The Money Team Racing Chevrolet failed inspection twice and Daly grazed the wall in practice.
Chase Elliott, who has already clinched his place in the round of 16, is FanDuel’s favorite. Elliott has won two of his four starts on The Roval. … Rick Hendrick this week sent a bouquet of flowers to the Petty GMS Racing store in Statesville to congratulate the team on Erik Jones’ win at Darlington and thank them for pushing Elliott to victory at Talladega last week. … The four drivers below the cut line in danger of elimination are Chase Briscoe of Stewart-Haas Racing, Cindric of Team Penske, Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing and Bowman of Hendrick Motorsports. Noah Gragson replaces Bowman for a second consecutive week.
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