Justin Marks Returns; Teams with Venturini Motorsports in Pennsylvania ARCA 200 at Pocono LONG POND PA (7-30-09) - Justin Marks ran a full season in the ARCA RE/MAX Series in 2007, finishing a respectable fifth in championship points before he...
Justin Marks Returns; Teams with Venturini Motorsports in Pennsylvania ARCA 200 at Pocono
LONG POND PA (7-30-09) - Justin Marks ran a full season in the ARCA RE/MAX Series in 2007, finishing a respectable fifth in championship points before he ventured off into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series fulltime in 2008 with Germain Racing.
But after struggling in the Truck series, the Rocklin, California driver packed his bags and headed back to his road course roots for 2009. Marks responded with a victory in this year's Rolex Sports Car Series in the 24 Hours of Daytona, driving a Porsche in the GT class. Marks shared the driving duties with Patrick Long, Germany's Jorg Bergmeister, RJ Valentine and Andy Lally.
However, Marks yearned to get back to the stock car world, so he struck a deal with Venturini Motorsports to race in three ARCA RE/MAX Series races this year at Michigan, Kansas and this weekend at Pocono in the Pennsylvania ARCA 200.
In addition, Marks will be racing in four NASCAR Nationwide Series events this year with Braun Racing at Watkins Glen, Montreal, Memphis and Homestead.
"We're right in the middle of working on next year," said Marks. "Believe it or not, there's a lot of opportunity out there right now. We're going to look at where we can be competitive and enjoy racing again."
Marks was really enjoying racing at Michigan Int'l Speedway back in June where he was 10 laps away from winning the Racing for Wildlife 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series race before he cut down a right-rear tire while leading.
"It just felt so good to get back in a stock car. It had been eight or nine months since I had driven one, so for my first time back, and to be that competitive really felt good."
Marks led 39 laps overall, and was leading with 10 to go and pulling away before he wrecked off turn two from the tire issue.
"It was disappointing because I'm still looking for that elusive first win; yet it was still very gratifying. I mean, we had it wrapped up; we had it won. But I was very proud of the effort. Now I know how good the cars are at Venturini Motorsports, and I'm very excited to get back in one at Pocono."
Marks finished a career-best second twice in ARCA RE/MAX Series events at the Milwaukee Mile and Chicagoland Speedway. Although he DNFed in both Pocono events in 2007, he acknowledges that Pocono is one of his favorite tracks.
"Pocono's always been one of my favorite tracks. It's so unique, and it's so different to drive compared to anywhere else. The surface is worn out, and I like that. I seem to do best on surfaces that are pretty worn out. The place has tons of character. It's high-speed and there's still a lot of passing opportunities. There's a lot in the driver's hands - a lot in the crew chief's hands, set-up-wise.
"Honestly, it's great to be back in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. ARCA, in my opinion, is the best thing going in racing right now. Now that I've experienced Trucks, Nationwide, I've noticed that people really seem to be enjoying what they're doing (in ARCA) more than anywhere else. People are racing in ARCA because they have a real passion for it; and that's attractive to me. That passion for racing seems to disappear as you step up the ladder. And you still get to race on all the high-profile venues in the ARCA series.
"Also, I think ARCA has the best thing going with the cars. You can still do really cool stuff with the bodies and there's plenty of horsepower to work with."
Even though Marks has been away from the tour for some time, he's very aware of the high level of competition he'll be up against at Pocono.
"There's so much competition in that series right now; I've been watching it. Parker Kligerman (point leader) is very impressive - they way he's come in here and embraced it like he has. I think he's got a big future in this sport; he's shown maturity beyond his years, beyond his experience. He makes very few mistakes. I mean, there's no question that he's the guy to beat right now. I expect him to be my biggest competition at Pocono. It's good to see his car owner Mark Gibson winning races too.
"I'm certainly not prepared to say I'll be the guy to beat; that's for sure. But as good as a car as I'm going to be in with Venturini Motorsports, we've got to be included in that mix."
On-track activity for the Pennsylvania ARCA 200 starts Friday, July 31 with practice from 10:15 AM to 11:55 AM. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell follows at 1:45 PM. The Pennsylvania ARCA 200 kicks off Saturday afternoon, August 1 at 1:00 PM and is live on SPEED.
In addition, ARCAracing.com will feature live timing & scoring and live streaming audio of all the on-track activity via the ARCA Racing Network.
Tickets for the Pennsylvania ARCA 200, the SPRINT Cup Series event and the entire 2009 Pocono Raceway season are available by contacting the Pocono Raceway Ticket Office at 1-800-RACEWAY (1-800-722-3929), or through www.poconoraceway.com.