Justin Marks kicked off the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season with a bang on Friday night, under the lights, at Daytona International Speedway, but the excitement didn’t end with Marks’ holding the coveted trophy in Victory Lane. Instead of claiming the win, Marks’ No. 66 GoPro team faced misfortune and came out on top with a 24th place finish in the NextEra Energy Resources 250.
“It was a bit of a frustrating night with a lot of what seemed like just teething issues with a new group of guys and a new team,” said Marks after the race. “What was good was that the GoPro Chevrolet was pretty fast in the draft. I felt like we could go on offense with it and make some moves on our own which is what you want when you come to these big tracks,” he explained.
The “teething issues” began in practice and carried over to qualifying for the 100-lap event on Thursday night. Marks’ GoPro Chevrolet was fast in the draft, but didn’t live up to expectations on its single truck run in qualifying. The No. 66 laid down a qualifying lap of 52.045 seconds at a speed of 172.927 miles per hour, which was good for 30th starting position for Friday night’s race.
While staged on pit road before the race, Marks’ strapped into his GoPro Chevrolet. As the Grand Marshall instructed the drivers to fire their engines, Marks’ keyed the radio to talk to the crew and was met with radio interference. The team tried to fix the issues while parked on pit road, but Marks’ was forced to start at the tail of the field for the start of the race.
Radio issues aside, Marks’ took the green flag and wasted no time finding his spot in the draft and working his way past slower traffic. Shown 23rd just 12 laps in, Marks’ was marching through the field before a hood pin came loose and he was forced to bring his Chevrolet down pit road for an unscheduled green flag stop on lap 26. Crew Chief Doug Wolcott called for fuel and no tires before the team attempted to repair the hood with bearbond.
“The hood coming apart was a pretty slow developing thing. Once it started flapping we really lost the edge and had to follow a bit and work traffic in a certain way to get as much air off the hood as possible,” Marks’ explained. “It kind of changed the game plan a bit.” When Marks’ returned to the track he was one lap down to the leaders and barely missed a shot at the “lucky dog” when the caution flag was displayed on lap 39. “When we were forced to it to fix (the hood) and lost our opportunity at the lucky dog, it just kind of turned to a survival thing.”
With survival in mind, Wolcott called Marks in for his second stop of the night on lap 49 to try and repair the hood once more. Unfortunately, the damage was already done. When Marks’ returned to the track, a second hood pin broke and metal bracing punctured his right front tire, forcing Marks’ hard into the outside retaining wall in turn one.
Marks’ returned to pit road where the crew cut away the hood, but Marks’ was mired deep in the field, nearly seven laps down. “All in all, it was a tough race but the GoPro Chevy team did a good job and guys worked really hard in the face of adversity,” explained Marks after the race. “I think we have a group of guys that have a good work ethic and are pretty invested in this thing so that's encouraging as we move forward.” Marks’ was able to salvage a 24th place finish after avoiding several late race multi-truck crashes that took out most of the field.
“The way things shook out, it wasn't the worst points day as a lot of strong contenders had tough nights as well so we're still positioned well going to the next race,” said Marks, who currently sits 19th in the championship title chase.
“I feel like we had a good test at Gresham and both us and the 60 have strong trucks going to Phoenix so I think we can achieve a lot there as a team,” Marks’ said. “With the new points system, it would appear that the mulligans you get hurt you a bit more than in the past so lets hope this is our only hiccup this year and we can go to work in Arizona.”
Marks and the No. 66 GoPro team will head West to Phoenix International Raceway for race number 2 of 25 in the 2011 Camping World Truck Series season. The race will be televised live on the SPEED channel on Friday, February 25th at 8 p.m. ET.
Turn One Racing PR