Justin Marks made his first date with the “Lady in Black” on Saturday night when he made his first career start at the infamous 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval. Being patient and on his toes seemed to pay off at the track best known for leaving its mark on unsuspecting superstars, until Marks’ – who had avoided the event’s first seven wrecks – made contact with the wall just 49 laps from the conclusion of the 6th Annual Too Tough to Tame 200.
“I was happy that we had a truck that was the most competitive so far this year,” said Marks after the race. “It looked like the GoPro Chevy was headed to a solid top-15 finish, maybe better. I'm not sure if there was something on the track or if I just made a mistake but we got sideways right behind Ricky (Carmichael) when he went around. We caught the wall just enough to end our night. It was pretty disappointing.”
Before the collision, the 29-year-old Rocklin, California native had cracked the top-15, which was a significant improvement over qualifying, where his fast lap would only claim 28th starting spot. “Darlington is a very difficult racetrack but a lot of fun to drive,” said Marks. “Everything you hear about showing respect and staying focused are absolutely true. It requires a level of concentration and confidence rare to other tracks.”
That concentration and confidence paid off at the drop of the green flag. Marks started 28th and never looked back; breaking into the top-20 after 10 laps. After logging 25 laps and avoiding the event’s first three accidents, Marks’ brought his No. 66 GoPro Chevrolet down pit road to the attention of the crew, who outfitted his Silverado with four fresh Goodyear tires, fuel, and an air pressure adjustment to help aid the truck from being tight in the center of the corner, and loose off.
When the race resumed, the truck picked up speed and Marks was able to drive it into the top-15 by lap 40. Taking the opportunity to hit pit road again under caution on lap 59, Crew Chief Doug Wolcott called for two right side tires, fuel, and a track bar adjustment, returning Marks to the track 14th.
Marks battled in the top-15 until the next caution waived on lap 90 for a single truck wreck in turn two. Making his final pit stop of the night, Marks hit pit road for four tires, fuel, and an air pressure adjustment, returning to the track 15th. Just three laps after taking the green flag on lap 95, Ricky Carmichael wrecked while exiting turn four and made hard contact with the outside retaining wall. Marks tried to take evasive action to miss Carmichael’s machine, but he slapped the wall with the right front instead.
Marks limped his GoPro Chevrolet to pit road under caution where the crew assessed the damage. With the toe knocked out and the right front fender gone, Marks’ chances of coming away with a top-10 at Darlington were done. After a short red flag, the race resumed with Marks in 26th place. Despite the damage, Marks hung on to finish 24th in his Darlington debut.
Marks and the No. 66 GoPro team will enjoy two weeks off before heading to Martinsville Speedway for the Kroger 250 on Saturday, April 2nd for race number 4 of 25 in the 2011 Camping World Truck Series season.
Turn 1 Racing PR