Sunday, Jun 26

Taking Momentum Into Off-Weekend, Martinsville

Taking Momentum Into Off-Weekend, Martinsville NK Photography Photo

 

It's been an eventful seven races to open the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season for the newly formed Trackhouse Racing team.

Owner Justin Marks announcing Pitbull as a co-owner and welcoming primary sponsors like CommScope and Camping World to join iFLY, Chevrolet and Coca-Cola have served as some of the off-track highlights, but the team's on-track success is what may be the surprise of the season.  

The combination of driver Daniel Suárez and the No. 99 Trackhouse crew led by Travis Mack have started strong out of the gate and peaked with a fourth-place finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on March 29. The fourth- and second-place stage finishes and leading 58 laps came despite Suárez having never raced a car on dirt until the week before when he tested a street stock at a quarter-mile dirt track.

The Bristol race marked the second consecutive race the No.99 Chevrolet Camaro raced at the front of the field. The previous week at Atlanta Motor Speedway the team saw a top-five finish ruined when a speeding penalty on pit road late in the race.

After enjoying a rare off-weekend this weekend, the Trackhouse team returns to action under the lights Saturday night April 10 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The half-mile paper-clipped shaped track is one of the toughest on the circuit.

FS1 will broadcast the race at 7:30 p.m.

 

Daniel Suárez, Driver of the No. 99 Camping World Chevrolet Camaro

How do you feel about the upcoming off-weekend and Martinsville next weekend?

"I feel good. For now I’m really looking forward to sit down a little bit, relax for a few days, try to see everything that we have done the last month and a half, either good or bad, and what can we do better.

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Watch Daniel Suárez Talk About His Fourth-Place Finish on the Bristol Dirt

"But I definitely believe that this team is very good and we just keep getting better and better. I’m just very excited and happy to be back racing with these guys.

"I feel like Martinsville has been a good place for me in the past. I’m really looking forward, like I said, a few days off, then come back with my group, work hard and try to build a good piece for Martinsville. I’m sure we’re going to have a lot of fun there."

Do you like racing in Martinsville?

“I love going to Martinsville. It’s just a different atmosphere and they have things so unique to them – the trophy, the style of track, etc. Martinsville is cool because it’s one of the old-school tracks that we go to. I drive back and forth from home and it’s a unique place. It reminds me kind of like a Late Model race, where it’s just a different environment from the big tracks we usually go to." 

Crew Chief Travis Mack & Suárez

What do you think of crew chief Travis Mack so far?

"I really enjoy a lot working with Travis. He’s very smart, a great leader, a great person that work extremely good with people. He calms me down the entire time. I’m the kind of person that I get excited very easy. He does a great job making sure that I’m always calm down and relaxed on things.

"He doesn’t get to the chip on the rpm too often, which is a good thing. I really enjoy working with Travis, everyone at Trackhouse Racing. Everyone does an amazing job. We have a very good relationship, very good chemistry. I feel like it will only get better from here."

Does the Bristol run give you momentum for the rest of the season?

"Yes, but remember in Atlanta we were very similar. I mean, we didn’t lead laps, but I made a mistake in the last pit stop, and that took away our chance to finish either fifth or sixth.

"Bristol was the second week in a row that we’ve been running strong. I don’t see this as, okay, we run good because we’re on dirt. I feel like everyone at Trackhouse Racing has done an incredible job to work hard on these cars, get them better. Really a lot of support from RCR, engines and chassis and everything. I feel like we still a long ways to go from where we want to be, but we’re heading the right direction.

"Hopefully we can compete in the top 10, top 5 like we’ve been doing the last couple weeks on a weekly basis. Eventually we’re going to get a trophy."

 

 

Watch Justin Marks Discuss Pitbull's Role as Co-Owner at Trackhouse Racing in 2021.

 

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Justin Marks on 2021 Season:

“I think in some ways we are surpassing expectations, in some ways we are meeting expectations and I think we have some things to work on. I did not set goals for this team based on finishing positions this early in the life of the company. I think that is unrealistic not really knowing how we stack up, how our cars are going to be this early in the communications structure between our crew chief Travis Mack and Daniel. My expectations are to see that we are building this team week in and week out, understand what Daniel wants in a race car, and working on our execution on the race track and race weekend. Let’s let the pit crew get reps together and start understanding each other. I didn’t think this early in the year we would have a day like we had in Bristol. And, it’s not just Bristol. We had a day going like this in Atlanta. We were on our way to a fifth or sixth place finish before we got a speeding penalty at the end of the race.

"It’s a little surreal to see us passing some of the cars we are passing, but we are also trying to stay realistic."

What has most impressed you so far this season?

“I am really proud of the work that everybody has put in, how aligned everyone is, and how much everyone motivates each other. Ultimately, that’s the currency of success at Trackhouse right now just because it is so early in the life of the company. We have to be prepared for days like we had in Las Vegas where we finished 26th and it was all we could get out of the day. We just have to make sure we learn no matter where we finish and take something positive away from it. So far, I’m very happy with everyone’s work ethic, attitude, passion and devotion to this project. It’s really nice to see the proof of concept when we go and have days like we did at Bristol.”

Notes of Interest

  • Suárez's 74 laps led in 2021 is the seventh most of any driver.
  • The No. 99 has scored 17 bonus points in 2021 - 17th best of all teams.
  • The fourth and second place finishes in Stage 1 and Stage 2 at Bristol were the best two stage finishes of the season. Suarez's earned the team's first bonus point when he finished 10th in Stage 2 at Atlanta.
  • In 2016, Suárez became the first Mexican driver to win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, claiming three victories at Michigan, Dover and the championship finale at Homestead-Miami.
  • Suárez owns 84 Xfinity Series starts posting three wins, 33 top-five and 55 top-10 finishes.
  • Suárez owns 28 Camping World Truck Series starts posting a win (Phoenix, Nov. 11, 2016) 10 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes.
  • In the Cup Series, Suárez owns two poles (Pocono, July 16, 2018), (Kentucky, July 12, 2019.)
  • Trackhouse co-owner Justin Marks competed in six Cup Series races with a best finish of 12th-place in the 2018 Daytona 500. He made 35 starts in the Xfinity Series posting a win, three top-five and seven top-10s. He won the Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Aug. 13, 2016 driving for Ganassi Racing.
  • Marks competed in 38 races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series posting four top-10s and capturing two pole awards. He joined four co-drivers in winning the 2009 Rolex 24 in the GT division.
  • Before turning a wheel, Trackhouse Racing became one of the more popular teams in NASCAR when it announced GRAMMY® Award-winning global superstar Pitbull had become a co-owner. Not only will he serve as an active partner on the Trackhouse executive team, but Pitbull also serves as a brand and philanthropic ambassador. Together, Marks and Pitbull will foster the launch of a racing-themed STEM curriculum within the SLAM! (Sports Leadership Arts and Management) inner-city charter schools -- which Pitbull helped establish seven years ago.

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