Trackhouse owner Justin Marks has always believed “you can’t take the Racer out of the Racer.”
The NASCAR Cup Series team owner loves to get behind the wheel of a racing machine, whether it’s the NASCAR Xfinity Series car at the Chicago Street Race or the No. 99 Trackhouse Chevrolet Camaro in Trans Am.
On Saturday, July 8, Marks dueled with Chris Dyson and Boris Said before winning a highly competitive Denny Lamers Tribute 100 Trans Am race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Marks started from the pole for the fourth time this season and led the field to the green flag. What followed was a fantastic race with Dyson and Said, as Dyson took the lead on the opening lap. He stayed in front for the first eight laps before Marks took over the lead on Lap 9.
Marks’ No. 99 Trackhouse Camaro was at its best in clean air. When he retook the lead on Lap 16, he went the rest of the to the checkered flag to win the race.
“My car was really, really good today; big thanks to all of my guys,” said Marks in Victory Lane. “This is an awesome racetrack. I love coming to this side of the country and seeing all the fans here.”
Road America is an iconic 4.048-mile, 14-turn road course in Wisconsin that has earned the nicknamed “America’s National Park of Speed.”
Some of the greatest drivers in racing have won at this famed road course and now the Trackhouse owner is one of them.
“I’ve gotten to race here in IMSA, World Challenge and Xfinity, and I’ve always wanted to win here, so I’m really excited that it happened today,” Marks said. “That’s three wins in a row for this Trackhouse brand and hopefully we can keep doing it tomorrow in Atlanta.
“It was really nice to race against both of these guys; we can race hard, and we can all race clean. Overall, it was just a good day for us.”
Marks’ victory gave Trackhouse three wins in a row including Ross Chastain’s victory in the NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway, Shane Van Gisbergen’s epic victory in the Grand Park 220 Chicago Street Race in the Project91 Chevrolet.
Unfortunately, the Trackhouse NASCAR victory streak came to an end the following day in the Quaker State 400 available at Walmart at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday night, July 9.
Heavy rain ended the race at 185 laps of the scheduled 260 laps were completed. Hendrick Motorsports William Byron was the leader at the time the race was stopped and a few minutes later was declared the winner.
Trackhouse driver Daniel Suarez was in position to challenge for the win and give the team three-straight NASCAR Cup Series victories in a row when the race was stopped. He finished second in the No. 99 Quaker State Chevrolet.
“I feel like I have mixed feelings, but overall, very proud of my No. 99 Quaker State Chevy team,” Suarez said. “It’s been a little bit rough lately because we’ve had the speed, but we haven’t had the results, so this feels good.”
Chastain was an early exit and finished 35th after completing 124 laps because of NASCAR’s “damaged vehicle policy.”
Although the team’s NASCAR Cup Series winning streak came to an end, Marks’ victory in the Trans Am race at Road America is another great accomplishment for the 42-year-old, who loves the thrill of competition from all angles.
“I’ve never lost my love for driving cars, for racing cars,” Marks told Dave Kallman of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “This is something that’s valuable to me because it keeps me in touch with my passion for the sport, I grew up doing. I’m able to come do this stuff and go back to the races sort of rejuvenated and passionate and excited, sort of like the first time I went to the racetrack.
“It’s important to step away from the pressures and worries of Cup racing and just race to have fun. It just keeps me loose.”
Marks is also making the most of his second opportunity at driving a race car. Five years ago, he thought his days behind the wheel had come to an end.
“In 2018 I was pretty committed to ending my NASCAR career,” Marks recalled. “So, I ran my last race in ’18 and then ran IMSA in 2019 and then walked away from that to start Trackhouse. In ’20 and ’21 I did just a few races here and there just for fun, when I needed a break, but I never really thought I’d be racing as much as I have been this year.
“My truck race last year and my Xfinity race this year was really just opportunities that came to me. Last year it was Worldwide Express asking me to drive their truck, which was amazing, and this year I lightly socialized I thought it’d be fun to participate in that race, and Jockey said, hey, we’ll sponsor it. Those things just sort of came to me.
“But I’ve always felt like I’m going to drive something sort of forever. It’s just a matter of how. It just can’t be a drain on my job at Trackhouse. It’s still got to be fun and pressure-free.”
Marks, the race driver, plans to compete in as many races as he can, while still leading the Trackhouse operation. But they have to fit into his complicated puzzle and estimates he will compete in two-thirds of the races on the Trans Am schedule in 2023.
He already knows he will skip the Trans Am finale because that is the same day as the NASCAR Championship Race at Phoenix in November.
Even at 42, he continues to have goals and dreams of what he would like to drive as a racer.
“As I’ve aged some of those things have gotten a little bit out of reach,” Marks admitted. “I would have loved to race the 24 Hours of Le Mans but never had the opportunity to. It’s still probably possible, but I’m not trying to make it happen.
“I would say as I get a little bit older where my desires would lie is I’m really into the history of the sport. I think it would be really fun to one day own some historically significant cars, like an old Formula One car from the ’70s or a GTP car or something like that would be really fun and go do Monterrey and those historic races.”
Spoken like a true Racer.