By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – In NASCAR’s first race weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course, everything is coming full circle for road course ringer Justin Marks.
Prior to the start of the race weekend, the Rocklin, CA native tweeted that he will be stepping away from NASCAR competition following the completion of the Bank of America ROVAL 400 on Sunday, Sept. 30.
“It’s just run its course,” Marks said. “Honestly, I have pretty lofty ambitions on the business side, have some projects that I’m working on that just are going to require 100% of Justin Marks. I think if I’m going to have some success in business in the next five to 10 years of my life there has to be a time where I’m not being a race car driver because that takes away from what my aspirations are outside of the car. I don’t support my family doing this. It’s getting harder and harder to leave my kids. It’s just time, I’ve had a great career.”
In 13-years of NASCAR competition, Marks scored just one victory. In a 2016 Xfinity Series race, his car control shined through the torrential rain at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Marks dominated the race, leading 43 of 75 laps to win by 3.707 seconds.
In his final Xfinity Series race, Marks returns to the same Chip Ganassi Racing team he won at Mid-Ohio with.
In 77 National Series starts, Marks has one victory, two top-five and eight top-10 finishes. He also earned two pole positions in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“My career has gone farther, and I have achieved more than I thought I would, or ever could have dreamed of when I got started,” Marks reflected. “I didn’t come from a racing family. I didn’t sit in a racecar for the first time until I was 19-years-old. For somebody like me, the story is written differently. I’ve turned this into a 20-year career. I’ve won at almost every level that I’ve raced at.
“I’ve made some great relationships and brought some great companies into the sport, met my wife through the sport. I think I’ve gotten more out of it than I ever could have dreamt of. I’m really excited to be able to leave on my own terms because a lot of people don’t get that opportunity. That’s not lost on me that that’s something special.”
In what is now the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Marks has eight class wins, including two in the prestigious Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in 2004 and 2009. He has earned 17 podiums and six pole positions, with his best championship result of third coming in the 2004 GT Class Standings.
Marks is one of four drivers that is competing in both the Drive for the Cure 200 as well as the Bank of America ROVAL 400. In the NASCAR Xfinity Series practices, he was fifth and 10th-fastest on Thursday.
His No. 42 Chevrolet Accessories Chevrolet Camaro SS team had to make repairs to the fenders after the road course ace ran over one of the ‘turtle’ curbs on the backstretch chicane. Marks was 12th and sixth fastest in the Friday Xfinity sessions.
“I don’t think so because it’s a really straight-forward racetrack,” Marks said about the possibility of drivers with Rolex 24 experience having an advantage over the Series regulars. “These guys are so good and adapt so quickly. It’s not a difficult road course. IROC ran there (Daytona Road Course) back in the day.
“It (the Roval) is like nothing else,” Marks continued. “When you build a road course inside of an oval, it’s always difficult. You always end up with a really unique product because of the infrastructure, the land, and the layout that you’re working with. What makes a lot of road courses uniquely road courses is that they’re cut through the woods, sides of mountains, and they’re in rural areas.
“Where this one, we’re basically racing on the infield parking lot and RV roads. There is an inherent challenge in that. I mean, a lot of tracks do it, Daytona does it, Phoenix used to have one, Kansas has one. There are a lot of tracks that have them (Roval). It’s a really, really unique challenge, but the Speedway and NASCAR have done a really great job. They had a lot of challenges in front of them in making this a raceable course, that the procedures of a race could develop well on it. They did a great job on it. I think it’s awesome. I’m having a lot of fun.”
In the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Marks was 26th-fastest in the No. 15 GoPro Motorplex / Pickers Vodka Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Premium Motorsports.
Although he is stepping away from NASCAR, Marks is optimistic about the future of road racing in the sport.
“I think it’s some of the best racing that they have,” he said. “The thing that’s great about road course racing is that it is sort of an equalizer because a lot of the technology from wind tunnels, simulation, pull-down machines, and software isn’t used as much. It’s a lot more of a drivers’ environment. It’s physical racing and it’s dramatic because it always comes down to late race restarts.
“I think it’s a great thing for the sport, and I applaud them for doing that. While the road courses inside of the ovals are not the purest road course, I think it’s a great place for them to do it because they can still land on something that is compelling that they can pack the house here, sell a lot of tickets, and have a great event.”