Marks Wins Menards Pole Award for Sunday's Garden State ARCA 150 (MILLVILLE, N.J.) - Justin Marks set the tone at the top early, and it stuck. Marks completed a qualifying lap on the 2.25-mile Thunderbolt Raceway at New Jersey Motorsports Park...
Marks Wins Menards Pole Award for Sunday's Garden State ARCA 150
(MILLVILLE, N.J.) - Justin Marks set the tone at the top early, and it stuck. Marks completed a qualifying lap on the 2.25-mile Thunderbolt Raceway at New Jersey Motorsports Park in 82.355 seconds (98.355 mph), and his No. 32 Construct Corps Dodge will start from the pole in Sunday's Garden State ARCA 150 presented by American Red Cross.
Marks is the 12th different Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell winner in 12 qualifying sessions this season. (Qualifying at Texas in April was cancelled for severe weather and the race field was set by owner points.) The pole is Marks' third overall, and his first since the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in 2008.
Marks was one of five drivers entered in the afternoon's first qualifying segment, reserved for the drivers with the five fastest best laps in the day's two earlier practice sessions. After posting the best practice time of 82.534 seconds (98.141 mph), Marks edged Robb Brent, Steve Arpin, Tom Hessert, and Joey Coulter in the opening qualifying segment. Drivers were scored based on their best lap of several completed in an allotted 10-minute session.
"When we come to a road course, it's what I expect to do," said Marks, an experienced road racer. "This weekend came at a really good time for us after we lost ground in the championship. We knew this would be a good chance to gain max points. We wanted to get the pole and we want to lead the most laps and win the race."
Marks won the series' previous road course race, at Palm Beach (Fla.) International Raceway in February, but fell out of the points lead and into third place following transmission problems and a season-low 21st-place finish in last week's race at Berlin (Mich.) Raceway.
No driver in the previous 13 road course races in ARCA Racing Series history has won multiple road events, and though Marks may become the first, the honor is not his primary focus.
"I'm committed to stock car racing, and I love these cars and I love racing on the ovals. Being able to go road racing is an added bonus. It's the kind of racing I'm very passionate about and have spent most of my life doing. It would be a cool feather in the cap (to win both), and it'd be good for the Bill France Four Crown too, but more than anything, our goal in ARCA this season is to win the championship. This is a good opportunity for max points."
Tim George Jr., who finished 10th in practice and drove in the second group, made a spirited bid for the pole but fell just short. George (No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Development Chevrolet) will start second after his lap of 82.628 seconds (98.03 mph).
"The car was really good in qualifying trim. We didn't do a mock run so we didn't know quite what to expect. I think we left a little bit on the table, but with Marks on the pole, it'll be nice to start the 31 and the 32 up front," George said. "I want to redeem ourselves a little bit for the other road course race in Palm Beach. I'm looking forward to starting up front and keeping the car up front, and we get a good pit stall choice. We'll bring our 'A' game tomorrow."
George finished eighth at Palm Beach in February, but is a previous winner on the New Jersey Motorsports Park surface. George teamed with Andy Lally to win the inaugural Grand American Road Racing Association Rolex Sports Car Series race at Thunderbolt Raceway in 2008. Still, he insists, the challenge of driving a stock car is far different than that posed by a sports car.
"These cars are so different than the Rolex cars. Compared to being able to adjust all sorts of things inside a Porsche, you don't have many options as a driver inside a stock car. You have to be really focused and get the setup right in practice," George said. "I'm going to race within my limits, not overdrive the car. I'm just planning on driving a good, clean, smart race and letting the strategy bring us up front."
Hessert, who led the opening practice and hails from Cherry Hill, N.J., will start third in his home state. Hessert (No. 77 Cherry Hill Classic Cars Dodge) completed his best lap in 82.633 seconds (98.024 mph).
Robb Brent (No. 36 Orchard Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Dodge), who finished second at Palm Beach in February and won two weeks ago at Pocono Raceway, will start fourth, and Chris Buescher (No. 17 David Ragan Fan Club Ford), the winner at Toledo in May, will start fifth.
Mikey Kile and Dakoda Armstrong will start sixth and seventh in a reversal of their current points positions. Joey Coulter, last week's winner at Berlin, will start eighth. Jeff Buice and Patrick Sheltra will fill out the fifth row and the top 10.
Points leader Craig Goess (No. 81 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Toyota) battled damage and engine problems throughout the day's practices and will start 17th. Nine-time series champion Frank Kimmel (No. 44 Ansell/Menards Ford), who is 10 points behind Goess through 12 races this season, will start 14th.
Live timing and scoring and live audio coverage of the 67-lap, 150-mile Garden State ARCA 150 presented by American Red Cross will begin at 1 p.m. Eastern Sunday on ARCARacing.com.