Justin Marks and Ross Chastain Lead Trackhouse Racing to NASCAR Finals
Rick Hendrick. Joe Gibbs. Roger Penské.
One of those four team owners certainly doesn’t belong with success and experience at the NASCAR Cup Series championship level, but external expectations didn’t matter much to Marks, co-owner of Trackhouse Racing alongside the Miami-area rapper. pitbull.
Their outfit crashed the party with their driver, Ross Chastain, who nearly crashed his car in a cheeky last-lap move at Martinsville last week that has since gone viral. Chastain, a native of Alva, Fla., passed five cars on the final corner to sneak into the Championship Four, with the final race taking place in Phoenix on Sunday.
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Ross Chastain was not the players’ favorite
Before the season, Chastain was a 7,000-to-1 longshot to win the championship. Not much was expected of the organization either, with one driving multiple cars for the first time, with Daniel Suarez driving the team’s other Chevrolet.
Yet after three combined wins and one of the wildest, boldest moves in sports history, Trackhouse has a seat at the adult table alongside three of NASCAR’s most legendary organizations.
“What does it mean to be here? It’s incredibly humbling,” Marks said. “To be in this place right now, I can’t help but reflect on my journey as a racing fan, then as a driver, then as an owner.
“It’s very, very surreal and humbling to be in this place, especially for Trackhouse to be competing with true sports legends this weekend in Phoenix in pursuit of glory.”
It’s a team full of underdogs — and a Pitbull — looking to become the best dog in a sport in which gains are meant to come slowly over time. Marks, a fellow racer himself with just one Xfinity Series win under his belt, knows that better than anyone.
Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez went through growing pains
Chastain and Suarez also struggled professionally. Chastain only recorded a top 10 at the 2019 Daytona 500, his 37th Cup Series start. His first Cup Series win came this year at the Circuit of Americans starting No. 121.
Yet Marks’ focus remained on the front, not on the past or the lean years for himself, his drivers or anyone else in the business. On Tuesday, he hinted at that grand initial vision.
“I came into this racing season with a personal goal,” Marks said. “It wasn’t a goal that was socialized publicly or even within the walls of our company, but it was just inside of me…I just wanted to put a car in the playoffs. That’s all I wanted to do. I wanted to put a car in the playoffs.”
And while he and everyone else in the organization are thrilled to have done this, Marks said no one is about to let go now.
“Now for us, at this point, you know, a feeling is like, ‘Well, you’re kind of playing with house money,’ because we’re kind of beyond our expectations. right now,” Marks said.
“But that doesn’t mean for a second that these guys here in the shop aren’t working harder on this car than they’ve been working on a car all year because we have the opportunity to go to Phoenix. Raceway and win a NASCAR Cup championship.”
Fight Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Christopher Bell
To achieve this, Chastain will have to beat Christopher Bell, Joey Logano and Chase Elliott, representatives of Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske and Hendrick Motorsports respectively. These three organizations have combined for 627 wins and 19 Cup Series championships.
A bit of pedigree to say the least.
Still, Trackhouse kept the mad belief throughout the season that he belongs. On Sunday he will have the chance to prove it once and for all and no one is taking this opportunity lightly.
“It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be really, really tough,” Marks said. “Chase has been here before, and some of these guys, Joey has been here before and Chris is operating at an incredibly high level and he’s motivated and he’s sitting in a fast race car right now. It’s going to be incredibly tough.
“But it’s 100 pe possible. We just have to execute. We just have to execute perfectly and leave it all there.”
—Contact Ryan Pritt at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RPritt.