Just a week after competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway, Justin Marks and the No. 66 GoPro team made the long trek out West for round two of competition at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday night. Marks made the most out of a heated situation, rebounding from a motor failure in practice to qualify 27th and finish 18th in The Valley of the Sun.
“Phoenix was a tough night for us again but I think we made the most out of what we had to work with,” said Marks after the one-day show in the Arizona desert. “The GoPro Chevy was tight all through practice and the race but Doug (Wolcott, Crew Chief) and the guys made good adjustments on the truck and we made forward progress during the race.”
After losing an engine in the events only practice session, Marks’ crew went to work to swap out motors. Even with the loss of valuable track time, the team never lost sight of their goal of claiming a top-15 finish. With no laps on their new motor, Marks cautiously hit the track for qualifying and laid down a fast lap of 27.967 seconds at a speed of 128.723 miles per hour. The lap was good for 27th starting position for the 150-lap shootout on Friday night.
The green flag dropped for the start of the Lucas Oil 150 shortly after 6 p.m. Within the first 10 laps, Marks’ had moved past slower traffic and into the 24th position. When NASCAR threw the event’s first caution on lap 43 for debris, Marks’ keyed the radio to tell the crew that his GoPro Chevrolet was tight in the center. Crew Chief Doug Wolcott called Marks’ to pit road where the crew outfitted the GoPro Chevrolet with four fresh Goodyear tires, fuel, and air pressure and track bar adjustments.
Returning to the track in 25th position, Marks’ continued to make laps around the one-mile oval while battling a tight truck. When NASCAR displayed the yellow flag on lap 102 for an accident in turn three, Marks’ hit pit road for his final stop of the night, taking on four tires, fuel, and another round of air pressure and track bar adjustments.
Marks’ continued to fight a tight race truck as the night went on. With cooling temperatures, the track seemed to tighten up, making his GoPro Chevrolet hard to drive. Despite an ill-handling truck, Marks’ managed to avoid the event’s final five cautions to claim an 18th place finish in only his second Camping World Truck Series start at the Phoenix flat track.
“It's taking me a little bit of time to get back into the swing of things in the Camping World Truck Series but I feel like I made progress as a driver during the race,” Marks’ said. “I’m definitely looking forward to going to Darlington, a place I've never been to. I think we are getting a bit better every week and looking forward to taking the next step and contending for a top-10.”
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will return to Darlington Raceway on Saturday, March 12th for the Too Tough To Tame 200. The race will be broadcast on live on the Speed Channel with radio coverage coming to you live on Sirius-XM NASCAR Radio and MRN Radio starting at 5 p.m. ET.