Marks Reclaims Points Lead After Wild Night at Iowa Newton, IA (July 12, 2010)-Tough luck for other top competitors turned into fortune for Justin Marks and the Win-Tron Racing team on Saturday night at Iowa Speedway. Heading into the Prairie ...
Marks Reclaims Points Lead After Wild Night at Iowa
Newton, IA (July 12, 2010)-Tough luck for other top competitors turned into fortune for Justin Marks and the Win-Tron Racing team on Saturday night at Iowa Speedway. Heading into the Prairie Meadows 200, Marks sat second in a tight championship points race, 35 tallies behind leader Patrick Sheltra. The Rocklin, California native was able to capitalize in a big way when Sheltra fell out early after an engine failure, with other close competitors suffering from bad luck as well.
With all on-track action taking place in one day this weekend at Iowa Speedway on Saturday, July 10th, the Win-Tron Racing team kicked into overdrive, preparing the car for two practice sessions, qualifying and 200 laps. Driver Justin Marks did his part as well by hydrating himself on a hot afternoon in the Hawkeye state and wheeling his No. 32 Construct Corps Toyota to ninth on the charts in the first practice session, followed up by an improvement to fifth overall in final practice. Though the car was tight in the middle of the turns, Crew Chief Mike Chaffee and the team threw several changes at the car to help the handling before qualifying.
[IMAGE]One of the final three cars to turn a lap in the time trial session, Marks was able to set the third fastest lap of the night, improving from his final practice time to a 23. 797 second lap. After climbing out of the car, Marks admitted that the car slipped slightly coming off of turn two which may have cost him a shot at the pole, but was pretty happy with the handling for the start of the 200 lapper.
With just about two hours between the end of qualifying and the 8:00 pm starting time for the race, track conditions changed significantly as the sun went down and, in turn, changed the handling on the Construct Corps machine. Just five laps after taking the green flag, Marks radioed to his crew that the car was chattering and extremely tight through the turns. Chaffee instructed his driver they would make some changes the first chance they got, which came under caution on lap 40. Holding steady within the top ten, Justin brought his Toyota down pit road for two tires and a chassis adjustment to help aid the issues he was facing.
Though the changes helped the tight condition, the car began to break loose exiting the corners and Justin reported just past halfway that the brakes were beginning to lose their stopping power. Co-owner Kevin Cywinski began to coach the Win-Tron Racing driver through the turns, giving him options to run different lines to help both the handling and braking conditions. After searching for a few laps, Marks was able to find a line that compensated for both conditions and held steady within the top 10.
Another caution came with less than 50 laps remaining, giving the Win-Tron Racing pit crew a chance to put four new Hoosier tires on the No. 32 and fill it full of Sunoco race fuel to propel it to the finish. The quick stop by the crew helped Justin gain two spots on pit road and moved him back into the top ten on the restart. The changes weren't enough for Justin to maneuver to the front to challenge for the lead, but he was able to come home in ninth position.
"These one day shows are always difficult because you practice in the heat of the day, you qualify under the sunlight and then you race and night. When the sun goes down the track changes and it's difficult to prepare for that because you almost have to take a stab at it, guess and hope you land on it," the driver commented after the finish.
"We just missed it a little bit tonight. It felt like we had the car working really well in the sunlight which made me a little nervous, and tonight the car started out really tight, then we made a change and it got really loose, and we sort of just split the difference for the last 100 laps.
"I raced hard and clean but I made everyone really earn it tonight because I really wanted to take advantage of the misfortune that the 60 (Sheltra) and 25 (Mikey Kile) had. I'm a little bit frustrated we didn't run better but obviously it was a good points day," said Marks.
Persevering through a tough night and holding onto a top-10 finish helped Marks regain the points lead for the second time this season, ahead of second place Sheltra by 70 points. The Win-Tron team is confident taking the points lead into next weekend, as their strong short track program will be a factor and main driving force in their success next Saturday in the Tim Richmond Memorial at Mansfield Motorsports Park.